On euthanasia and lifetime sentences

As a practicing small animal veterinarian, I’ve killed countless animals; a precious few my mistake, hundreds by lethal injection.

The reasons were usually old age, cancer or the failure of one organ or another. Occasionally a family, for various reasons, could no longer keep a healthy pet. They were referred to our local Humane Society or adopted by clients, family friends or myself.

Over 50 years the procedure has varied very little. My guess it’s similar with most vets today. After 50 years of practicing in Wisconsin, my three daughters in the area convinced me to retire to Georgia in 2001.

The animal was anesthetized just as I would do for an ovariohysterectomy or castration. A super-concentrated solution of Sodium Pentobarbital was injected into a leg vein while the owner or an assistant restrained the animal. Fractious animals were given a mild sedative prior to the lethal injection. Sleep was obtained in a few seconds, less than a minute. The heart stopped shortly thereafter.

Owners, wiping tears away, always thanked me for making the last memory of their pet a peaceful one. Many times my eyes were as wet as my clients.

I believe the death penalty should be abolished. Every few years DNA clears an innocent person. The guilty people should have to live their natural life (without parole) in prison – remembering what a terrible crime they committed each day they survive. Death is too easy and too quick.

A study in California found that if the death penalty was replaced with a sentence of Life Without the Possibility of Parole, which costs millions less and also ensures that the public is protected while eliminating the risk of an irreversible mistake, the money saved could be spent on programs that actually improve the communities in which we live. More than 3500 men and women have received this sentence in California since 1978 and not one has been released, except those few individuals who were able to prove their innocence."

John W. Merrick 

Newnan



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