Care as an Alternative to Euthanasia? Reconceptualizing Veterinary Palliative and End‐of‐life Care


Palliative care is routinely offered to humans in the United Kingdom, while euthanasia remains illegal. The converse is true for nonhuman animals (henceforth animals). Indeed, euthanasia is widely accepted as the appropriate course of action for “suffering” animals, and for those whose behaviors or suspected ill health are thought to pose a threat to others. This article details examples of nonhuman death at a multi‐faith ashram whose members vehemently oppose all forms of killing on religious grounds. Through exploring their efforts in palliative care for animals, and their emphasis on natural death as a means of respecting the sanctity of life, the practical, emotional, and theoretical viability of caring for, instead of killing, other animals at the ends of their lives is considered. In the process, normative distinctions between different categories of animals, (including humans), and different approaches to end of life care (palliative care, euthanasia, natural death) are called into question. Indeed, paying mindful attention to the diverse ways in which individual animals are cared for as they die reveals the potential violence inherent in both palliative care leading to natural death, and euthanasia, blurring perceptions of good and bad death in both veterinary and human medicine.