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Think before you shoot

Law makers are always in the tough position of having to balance human suffering against animal welfare, knowing the ire ...

Law makers are always in the tough position of having to balance human suffering against animal welfare, knowing the ire that would rise if four feet were treated better than two.

It's very difficult to write about animal welfare issues when there's so much human suffering and injustice in our own state and around the world, but here goes.

I can't accept, nor understand, how a person can put a gun to an animal's head and leave it to die an agonising death.

I'm not talking farmers here. They have a necessary job to do, mid paddock. If you've ever seen a fly-blown sheep, you'll understand the need to put them out of their agony, quickly. I'm talking about we suburbanites who think it's just fine to take the family dog in to the bush and shoot it in the head.

This week we saw the story of Bob, the two-year-old bull mastiff abandoned at Balingup with two bullet holes in his head. Incredibly, thanks to the efforts of Donnybrook vet Cameron Skerman, it looks like he'll live, minus an eye.

Sadly, I'm sure Bob wasn't the only animal treated this way last week.

In my attempt to think the best of people, I'll assume that whoever shot him believed the animal was dead before leaving, but that's not good enough.

It took me back to a case that I covered for The Daily News in 1985. An almost carbon copy. Dudley, the great dane cross, had been shot twice in the head, while tied to a tree. At the time, the maximum penalty for subjecting a dog to unnecessary cruelty was $200 or six months' jail. The dog's owner pleaded guilty and was fined $100. Dudley recovered and was adopted.

Penalties for animal cruelty have increased significantly since then, with the minimum fine now $2000. Law makers are always in the tough position of having to balance human suffering against animal welfare, knowing the ire that would rise if four feet were treated better than two. However, many would argue it's not about the penalty but about the mindset of the shooter who can go through with such an act against, one presumes, a once-loved pet.

People have all sorts of reasons for wanting to get rid of their pets and who are we to judge. But we're not living in the Wild West, we have vets, we have adoption shelters. I'd be surprised if there was a vet out there who wouldn't waive the fee, if necessary, to allow an animal to be put down peacefully and without cruelty.

6 comments so far

  • 'Doing the deed' yourself is simply about taking the matters into your own hands and not having to explain to a vet or adoption centre why you want to get rid of your pet. You might say 'who are we to judge?' but people do, and they do it harshly.

    The clear difference between what the farmers do and these people is that they're really bad shots if they can't make a clean kill with a headshot.

    What amazes me though is that we still find it acceptable to put an animal out of it's misery when it clearly can't be saved, yet we don't allow the same right to our fellow human beings. Instead we force them to live on, in pain and suffering, sometimes for years, until their bodies eventually give in.

    Date and time
    May 03, 2012, 10:52AM
    • yes ailie,,,my father died a few years back ...for 2 years he just wanted to die ,,i hated to see him like this...just bad memories..but you get over it...last thing i want to do is die in nappies...australia looks after animals more than it does its own people....but then again gillard thinks we are all sheep..

      Date and time
      May 04, 2012, 7:31AM
  • As Ghandi once said, "You can judge a nation by how it treats its animals". I am horrified that some sick people in this country think it is OK to shoot an animal in the head - it's horrifying enough that they have ready access to a firearm in the first place. As you mentioned, there are plenty of wonderful shelters who strive every day to save the lives of former pets that are dumped through no fault of their own (and usually due to their 'owner's' selfishness), resorting to a shot in the head, or even a lethal injection, is in almost all cases unnecessary, lazy, cruel and pathetic. Humans bring these poor animals into the world, it is our responsibility to look after them.

    Date and time
    May 03, 2012, 11:42AM
    • beedee you have missed the point to some degree....a lethal injection is by far the most humane way to put down a sick or critically injured animal....nothing lazy,cruel or pathetic about it just humane !

      Date and time
      May 03, 2012, 3:18PM
      • The cases you've mentioned are shocking and disgusting, but just to provide a listtle balance, I know a fellow who chose to have his dog shot rather than injected, and for good reason. He'd once taken a dying dog to the vet to be put down, and the vet injected too little of the "green dream". It was a miserable death, and badly mishandled. When his next dog's time came, he had a neighbour pop by. The neighbour was a crack shot, with a scoped rifle, and he put the dog quickly and quietly to death as she lay sleeping in her favourite sunny spot.
        But in general, you are undoubtedly right. Certainly I have always trusted vets to perform these services, and have never had cause to regret it. There's absolutely no excuse for risking the chance of botching the job.

        Date and time
        May 04, 2012, 8:56AM
        • Wow, those people mentioned as shooting their dogs must be really bad shots. When I shot my dog, it died instantly. Twenty-two calibre, no scope, one shot, dead dog. It is very easy to do. I can't understand how someone could botch that. I agree that shooting a dog, but not killing it is utterly contemptible, as well as being criminal.

          Date and time
          May 31, 2012, 6:03PM

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