Most pet parents agree that we’d do anything to make our animals happy or avoid unnecessary suffering or pain. But where do you draw the line?
Michael Whalen of Virginia Beach had a close companion in his senior hound dog mix named Allie. They’d spent 15 wonderful years by each others’ sides.
“We did everything together. She went everywhere with me,” Whalen, 65, told WTKR.
The pup had recently been diagnosed with Cushing’s Disease, in which the body produces too much cortisol. But despite the vet’s offer to euthanize her in her failing health, Whalen felt that Allie still had some life left in her.
“Allie was not ready. I was not ready. She was still having fun. She wasn’t in ill health. I got her stable on her medication,” Whalen said in the story.
Then one morning in February, Allie took a turn for the worst as they were walking the beach. She started having a severe seizure, and Whalen didn’t think he could get her help in time.
“She was not coming out of this,” he said of her condition in a story by CBS News.
According to a story, Whalen didn’t have anyone there to help with transport, plus the vet was 30 minutes away. He was also afraid that she’d choke to death as she seized during the drive.
Feeling helpless, Whalen did all that he thought he could do: he pulled out his gun and shot her in the head, wanting to end her suffering.
“I couldn’t sit there and think about this. I knew I had to do this quickly, I knew if I sat there and debated this, I might have not done it… It was so emotionally disturbing. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to go through this in my mind and sometimes I’ll just start crying,” Whalen said.
Whalen went on to bury Allie’s body along the shore, but it wasn’t long before it was rediscovered. Local resident Tim Saunders was walking on the beach when he saw a paw sticking out from the sand. He called animal control, and they discovered that the dog’s death was caused by a gunshot wound to the head.
Whalen was identified as the owner, and he’s now being tried for animal cruelty. However, he doesn’t think that his actions were “cruel” at all – in fact, he says he shot Allie out of love.
George Yates, Whalen’s lawyer, said in the story: “We feel that he did what a pet owner is required to do. Take care of their animal and when they’re animal is suffering to properly euthanize the animal.”
CBS asked a local veterinarian their take on the situation, and they responded that “they don’t consider a gunshot a form of euthanasia.”
Watch a news clip from the story – including some quotes from Whalen – by clicking here.
We want to know what you think: was Michael Whalen right to end Allie’s suffering?
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