“Why is it okay to put down an animal if they are suffering but not a person?” This question came from my six-year-old son one day as we drove past a familiar scene – a sick cow down the street from our house.
For two months, we looked out the car window at the sick cow as we drove past. The owners had placed several hay bales around the old cow trying to shield it from the cold wind and rain. Sometimes the cow even had a warm blanket and a hay bale by her head as a pillow.
The funniest sight ever was that of the cow being lifted off the ground out of the mud and dirt by a harness and crane so the owner could clean under the cow and reposition it. Clearly, this cow was a beloved family pet.
After two months of this, I casually mentioned the owners should go ahead and put the cow down because it was suffering. My comment sparked the curiosity of my six-year-old.
About a year prior to the sick cow, we came across a similar incident with our neighbor who had a sick horse. Two horses and a mule lived in the field behind our house and they daily made their visit to our back fence. One day, we noticed one of the horses was no longer making the rounds.
When we asked the owner what happened, she explained they put the horse down because he was suffering with cancer. By the look on my son’s face, I knew I was going to have to answer some questions.
Men and horses
As we walked back to the house, my son immediately asked what “put down” meant. He could not understand why anyone would want to hurl insults at a poor sick horse.
I explained that put down meant they had to kill the horse because it was suffering from cancer. I watched as my son’s eyes grew large. He looked at me and in all seriousness said, “Mom, Grandpa has cancer too!” I quickly assured him we would not be putting down Grandpa anytime soon.
My comment about the cow needing to be put down and not putting down Grandpa caused my son to wonder why I was okay with the killing of a sick cow but not a sick human. Don’t get me wrong, I think pet owners should be very diligent in the care of their