Like killing a dog and ... going to jail! If you have come to read this article it is possible that you are among the 320 Italians who on average every month search for "like killing a dog"On Google. If so, it is good that you know some important things.
Killing a dog is a crime
Yes, it is a criminal offense: as stated in article 544-bis of the criminal code: "Anyone who, for cruelty or without necessity causes the death of an animal is punished with imprisonment from 4 months to 2 years". Therefore, it is no longer just a "crime against property" (ie the protected property is the private property of the animal by an owner), as provided by theart. 638 (Killing or damaging the animals of others). The difference was clarified by the Supreme Court (sentence no. 24734/2010), which establishes that the crime referred to in art. 544 ter of the Criminal Code, now protects the feeling for animals: with art. 638 the animal was protected as "property" of a third party, who appeared to be the offended party; but with art. 544 ter, harmful conduct towards the animal is recognized. Therefore, the crime is recognized as being committed against a sentient being, who experiences pain, fear and feelings, just like human beings.
Even placing poisoned bait or morsels is a crime and is absolutely forbidden by law: according to article 544 ter: "Anyone who, through cruelty or without necessity, causes injury to an animal is punished with imprisonment from three to eighteen months or with fine from 5,000 to 30,000 euros. The same penalty is applied to anyone who administers drugs or prohibited substances to animals or subjects them to treatments that cause damage to their health. The penalty is increased by half if the death of the animal derives from the facts referred to in the first paragraph ".
Can't keep a dog anymore? Here are some solutions
As already mentioned, the dog is a sentient being. His world revolves around us, he lives exclusively to be with his humans and many animals, after abandonment, die of a broken heart or let themselves go. Deciding to get rid of a dog that has lived all his life in a safe family is to break his heart. The dog is an extremely loyal animal, he would never betray our trust. For this reason, the loss of his points of reference often equates to a life of sadness and pain. If there are serious situations that can make us even consider killing your dog, or that of another person, there are alternative possibilities.
The first thing to do is to consult the animal welfare organizations structured throughout the country (Enpa, Lav, the Italian animal rights association) and the volunteers: by writing the name of your city on Google, the list of non-profit organizations that deal with animal protection appears. Generally the volunteers, after hearing your story, look for a solution that can protect the dog first of all. If there is a disease problem of the owners, for example, volunteers can look for a stall for the animal until the person is healthy again.
There may also be economic difficulties or transfers: these people will study the right solution together with the owners, always to protect the four-legged friend. Does a neighbor's dog disturb us or, in the case of breeders, has it killed a head of cattle? Volunteers will find ways to achieve civil and peaceful coexistence. Because what seems like an insurmountable problem is often much simpler than you think.
End of life of the dog: empathic accompaniment or euthanasia
Is it possible to think of killing your dog because he is very sick and his suffering becomes unbearable? David Bettio, veterinary surgeon, president of the Italian Society of Veterinary Homeopathy, explains how to approach this dramatic moment in full awareness, first respecting the patient: our four-legged friend.
Doctor Bettio, what is empathic accompaniment or euthanasia?
The issue of euthanasia in veterinary medicine is a very delicate and complex fact because various considerations intersect strictly on a medical but also ethical and relational level.
In my experience, I constantly face the fact of resorting to euthanasia of a dog or a cat or of being able to accompany him to death without the euthanasia act.
The circumstances are always individual because they depend on the animal's clinical situation and on what the owner wishes to do at what time for his or her four-legged companion.
Euthanasia that is carried out by pharmacological means, or through accompaniment is a fact with which the veterinarian is confronted since the beginning of his profession. I would also like to say that there is no adequate preparation to face this medical act which would need more adequate in-depth analysis and reflection in our training.
I still remember when I witnessed the first euthanasia of a dog. I was doing a practical training in a veterinary clinic and a young Dalmatian was diagnosed with hemangiosarcoma of the spleen and liver. A very serious situation with no return. But the dog still seemed to be in his full cognitive capacity. However, it was decided to continue with euthanasia given the poor prognosis for the incurable disease. I was shocked because at the time I was unprepared to deal with such situations. But it was the beginning of some reflections on the need to resort to euthanasia in such fast times.
Another experience instead concerns a very neglected German shepherd. This situation was also dramatic, but very different from the previous one. Arriving near the clinic, the owner left the dog in the trunk of the car because he was in a comatose state: as I approached I felt a swarming coming from the dog. It was invaded by fly larvae. I don't tell you the pain and suffering. In that case there was nothing to be done and we decided to euthanasia at that moment.
Over the years, I also had a very touching family experience. My grandmother was very ill with metastatic bone cancer. I remember several nights spent watching my grandmother next to the hospital bed as she approached death with the help of palliative care. Those moments were really very precious despite the sadness and pain, moments of waiting and accompaniment. I had the feeling that waiting was also a possibility of facing the death of a loved one.
These have been significant experiences that have guided my work in the profession, since, at the time I attended university, the question of "euthanasia" was never addressed. The decision of how to conduct these moments is an intimate and delicate act because it brings to an end a relationship.
L'empathic accompaniment it is a pact between owner and doctor in which time is taken to enter a dimension of listening, reflection and exploring the emotions of such a difficult but inevitable moment.
We have a strange relationship with euthanasia because it is related to our deepest emotions and beliefs, often completely conscious and aware. However, millions of healthy animals are euthanized every day for food or medical reasons (research). This act has become such a consolidated procedure that it does not lead us to reflect more deeply on the relationship we have with animals, some of which seem not to deserve the considerations we do for our dogs and cats.
Why do many people who live with an animal do not want to address the subject?
I cannot make any generalizations regarding the way in which people experience this topic, both with respect to euthanasia and with respect to accompaniment. Each person has an exclusive relationship with their pet and this leads to a multiplicity of behaviors. What I can say is that in reality you are often not ready to face death and separation from a relationship in which you have invested heavily. Although death is under our eyes every day, it often catches us unprepared. We want our animals to live a long time and when they leave, they take a piece of our life with them. This is an intimate pain.
Is there an alternative to euthanasia?
There is an attitude towards death that does not provide for euthanasia but for accompaniment, as I described earlier when talking about my grandmother. This is also possible for animals using palliative and pain therapies as needed. It is an attitude that we consider normal and acquired in human medicine, but not so usual in veterinary medicine precisely because there is the tool of euthanasia that seems to be the only one possible.
What is palliative care?
Palliative care is primarily an act of awareness. It is the awareness of the incurability of some pathological states (such as, for example, of terminal stage patients). In these cases, pharmacological medical methods are used or by integrative therapies for relieve the animal at least from suffering pain.
Curated by Sabrina Mechella