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A ‘Humanely’ Killed Animal Is Still Killed—And That’s Wrong

Western conventional wisdom about animal ethics is that killing an animal is not the problem; the problem is making the animal suffer. 

A newborn calf, isolated from other calves the first days, is pictured on December 14, 2017 at an intensive cattle farm, known as the 1,000-cow farm, in the northeastern French town of Drucat. (Photo credit: PHILIPPE HUGUEN/AFP/Getty Images)

Western conventional wisdom about animal ethics is that killing an animal is not the problem; the problem is making the animal suffer. As long as we have treated and killed an animal in a ‘humane’ way, we have done nothing wrong. A compelling example of this belief is found in the case of dogs and cats, animals particularly valued in Western culture. If someone inflicts suffering on a dog or cat, they are excoriated. But unwanted dogs and cats are routinely ‘put to sleep’ – killed – in shelters with an intravenous injection of sodium pentobarbital, and most people do not object as long as the process is administered properly by a trained person and there is no suffering inflicted on the animal.

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