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"Dog Gets Sick? Just Put It Down!"

Ugh. Can you believe I just heard someone say those words to me?

"Dog Gets Sick? Just Put It Down!"

I admit that I didn't reply with anything particularly nice.

Okay, Here's What Happened...

At the time I was out with my dog, Jasmin, and we were at the chemist getting drops for her eyes. A man started chatting to me, and as we talked about Jasmin's health, the conversation took this unfortunate turn:

Man: It's expensive to take a dog to the vet.
[My alarm bells went's always a bad sign when people start moaning about how expensive medical care is for animals. I started walking away.]
Man: I always tell people, "Don't have kids, get a dog. Dog gets sick? Just put it down!"
Me [Face contorted in disgust]: That's HORRIBLE!
Man: Well, it's true.
Me: Maybe your kids will put YOU down if you get sick.
Man [Looking confused]: Uh, maybe.
Me: And it's YOU [pointing accusingly at him] who will have taught them that when someone gets sick, you should just get rid of them.

Then I walked away, and that was the end of the conversation.

One: "It"

What that man said was intrinsically immoral, but I'm going to identify three specific things wrong with what he said. I'll go through them one by one, starting with the word "it".

A dog is NOT something. A dog is someone. So, "he" or "she" is the appropriate word to use when referring to a dog, NOT "it".

Two: "Put Down"

My next objection is the term "put down". What an ugly term!

"Euthanise" or "put to sleep" are the appropriate terms to use. When someone uses "put down" to refer to a dog, it tells me that the person places little value on a dog's life.

Detour: So Then Why Did I Use Those Terms In This Dog Blog?

You might (rightly) wonder about the title of this Dog Blog. After all, the title "Dog Gets Sick? Just Put It Down!" uses both objectionable terms. The reason is simple: it was a direct quote. (Plus, I wasn't going to cover up the guy's awful attitude by rephrasing his words.)

Three: Attitude

Which brings me to my third objection: the guy's attitude.

"Dog gets sick? Put it down!" reduces the dog to nothing more than an expendable item. And if that item gets too bothersome (in this case, if the dog gets sick), 'it' can simply be discarded.

Not Alone

This man's revolting attitude towards dogs is not at all uncommon.

I encounter it distressingly regularly, in many different ways. (See “My Dog Is The Best Thing I Ever Bought”, "These Things Happen" and "I Gave My Dog Away" for other examples.) But no matter how it manifests, it ultimately comes down to seeing dogs not as living beings, but as valueless and expendable things. And it truly makes me despair.


I saw the man again as Jasmin and I continued on our walk. Our eyes met, and I just looked away.

I was too disgusted to say anything more to him. Not because this man's attitude was particularly repulsive compared to others' (sadly, it's not much different to many people's attitude), but I'd already had a gutful of this kind of mindset that day from another person, and just wasn't in the mood for more.

I'll probably never know if that man will think further about what I said, or if what I said made him consider how repellent his attitude is.

I wasn't particularly measured in my response to him, so I didn't exactly create favourable conditions to foster further thought; but, then again, sometimes an explosive reaction is what someone needs to jolt them out of their entrenched thinking.

So maybe I did make a tiny dent. I wonder. Anyway, if I ever do find out, I'll definitely let you know, but in the meantime, I hope I never hear the words "Dog gets sick? Put it down!" ever again!

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Adopt a homeless animal instead - they all deserve a second chance

It's estimated that 130,000 dogs and 60,000 cats are killed every year in Australia because there are not enough homes for them all. And the global numbers amount to millions upon millions every single year.

Puppy mills are a major contributor to the terrible problem of overpopulation. Puppy mills are essentially 'dog factories' where dogs are forced to churn out litter after litter, with no thought for the welfare of the dogs and all thought for profit. The dogs live in appallingly dirty, cramped conditions all their lives, and when they no longer serve their purpose they're killed, dumped or sold to vivisection laboratories.

Petshops fit into the picture because puppy mills are generally where petshops get their animals from. Furthermore, having animals in shop windows encourages impulse purchases, and adding an animal to your family should be a conscious, careful decision - NOT one to be made while shoe shopping.

Breeders contribute enormously to the tragic statistics above too. And it doesn't matter whether they're professional breeders or backyard breeders, and whether they breed for profit or not, because while there are homeless animals sitting on death row in shelters, any and all animal breeding is utterly irresponsible.

Now, here's where you come in. You can either be part of the problem or part of the solution. You can either buy animals from puppy mills, petshops or breeders and be part of the problem. Or you can adopt from a shelter or rescue organisation and be part of the solution.

If I haven't convinced you, visit your local shelter to see the homeless animals. Let their innocent faces convince you that adopting is the only responsible choice to make.

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