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Is It Legal To Euthanize A Healthy Dog? 7 Facts

Is It Legal To Euthanize A Healthy Dog

Euthanasia gives old and sick dogs painless and quick death. 

But did you know?

Thousands of dogs all over the world are also euthanized daily.

Even if they’re healthy.

What could be the reason behind this?

In this article, you’ll find out: 

  • Can vets refuse euthanizing dogs?
  • 7 reasons why healthy dogs are euthanized. 
  • 3 things to consider when euthanizing dogs who aren’t sick.
  • And much much more…

Is it legal to euthanize a healthy dog?

It’s legal to euthanize a healthy dog, however, veterinarians have the option to refuse to perform euthanasia on those that are not sick. This is because of their moral obligation to save animals, therefore, they’ll try to negotiate to rehome the dog first. 

Animal euthanasia laws by state

StateIs it legal to euthanize a healthy dog
AlabamaYes https://casetext.com/statute/code-of-alabama/title-34-professions-and-businesses/chapter-29-veterinarians/article-6-euthanasia-in-animals/section-34-29-132-euthanasia-in-emergency-situation 
AlaskaYes http://www.legis.state.ak.us/basis/folioproxy.asp?url=http://www.legis.state.ak.us/cgi-bin/folioisa.dll/stattx03/query=*/doc/%7B@239%7D?next 
ArizonaYes https://casetext.com/statute/arizona-revised-statutes/title-3-agriculture/chapter-11-ownership-control-and-regulation-of-livestock/article-1-animal-services-division/section-3-1213-acquisition-and-use-of-sodium-pentobarbital-or-sodium-pentobarbital-derivative-by-county-and-local-pounds 
ArkansasYes https://www.animallaw.info/statute/ar-dog-consolidated-dog-laws 
CaliforniaNo https://www.animallaw.info/statute/ca-euthanasia-%C2%A7-599d-policy-state-regarding-adoptable-and-treatable-animals  
ColoradoYes (with exemption) https://leg.colorado.gov/bills/HB21-1160 
ConnecticutYes https://www.cga.ct.gov/2013/fc/2013HB-06591-R000578-FC.htm https://www.cga.ct.gov/current/pub/chap_435.htm#sec_22-344a 
DelawareYes https://www.animallaw.info/statute/de-dangerous-delaware-dangerous-dog-laws 
FloridaYes http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&Search_String=&URL=0800-0899/0828/Sections/0828.058.html 
GeorgiaYes https://www.animallaw.info/statute/ga-dog-consolidated-dog-laws#s26 
HawaiiYes https://www.animallaw.info/statutes/us/hawaii 
IdahoN/A https://secure.americanhumane.org/site/DocServer/Euthanasia_Laws_by_State.pdf;jsessionid=00000000.app20097b?docID=7906&NONCE_TOKEN=DAE21B83A0FC2FCEB83D10634EA52525 
IllinoisYes https://www.animallaw.info/statute/il-dogs-consolidated-dog-laws 
IndianaYes https://law.justia.com/codes/indiana/2017/title-35/article-48/chapter-3/section-35-48-3-2/ 
IowaYes https://www.animallaw.info/statute/ia-impoundment-chapter-351-dogs-and-other-animals 
KansasYes https://www.animallaw.info/statute/ks-pet-sales-chapter-47-livestock-and-domestic-animals 
KentuckyYes https://www.animallaw.info/statute/ky-dog-laws-also-includes-cats-ferrets-kentucky-consolidated-dog-laws-license-impound-bite#s505 
LouisianaYes https://www.animallaw.info/statute/la-dog-consolidated-dog-laws 
MaineYes https://www.maine.gov/dacf/ahw/animal_welfare/documents/2019-awp-lawbook.pdf 
MarylandYes https://law.justia.com/codes/maryland/2005/gag/2-305.html 
MassachusettsYes https://www.mass.gov/doc/ma-animal-laws-handbook/download 
MichiganYes https://www.animallaw.info/topic/state-holding-period-laws-impounded-animals 
MinnesotaYes https://www.animallaw.info/statute/mn-dog-consolidated-dog-laws 
MississippiYes https://law.justia.com/codes/mississippi/2018/title-97/chapter-41/section-97-41-2/ 
MissouriYes https://www.animallaw.info/statute/mo-dogs-consolidated-dog-laws#s030 
MontanaYes https://www.animallaw.info/statute/mt-dogs-consolidated-dog-laws#s2108 
NebraskaYes https://nda.nebraska.gov/regulations/animal/CommercialDogCatOperatorInspRegulations.pdf 
NevadaYes https://www.havenah.com/nevada-animal-welfare-laws.pml 
New HampshireN/A https://www.citizenscount.org/issues/animal-rights 
New JerseyYes https://www.state.nj.us/health/vph/animal-control/its-the-law/ 
New MexicoYes https://www.animallaw.info/statute/nm-dog-consolidated-dog-laws 
New YorkYes https://www.nysenate.gov/legislation/laws/AGM/374 
North DakotaYes https://library.municode.com/nd/fargo/codes/code_of_ordinances?nodeId=CH12COPRANBIFO_ART12-01DOCA_12-0108IMANISUNINDOCA 
OhioYes https://casetext.com/statute/ohio-revised-code/title-9-agriculture-animals-fences/chapter-955-dogs/section-95528-dog-may-be-killed-for-certain-acts-owner-liable-for-damages 
OklahomaYes https://www.animallaw.info/statute/ok-ordinances-%C2%A7-43-counties-over-200000-population-regulation-and-control-dogs-running-large 
OregonYes https://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:UioSnIuR2R4J:https://www.oregonlegislature.gov/senatedemocrats/Documents/SB638DogsAndCats.pdf+&cd=11&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=bg 
PennsylvaniaYes https://www.animallaw.info/statute/pa-euthanasia-animal-destruction-method-authorization-law#s328.302 
Rhode IslandYes https://www.animallaw.info/statute/ri-dogs-consolidated-dog-laws 
South CarolinaYes https://www.scstatehouse.gov/code/t47c003.php 
South DakotaYes https://sdlegislature.gov/Statutes/Codified_Laws/2063226 
TennesseeYes https://casetext.com/statute/tennessee-code/title-63-professions-of-the-healing-arts/chapter-12-tennessee-veterinary-practice-act/section-63-12-141-euthanasia-of-animals-certificate-fees-penalty 
TexasYes https://www.animallaw.info/statute/tx-cruelty-chapter-821-treatment-and-disposition-animals#s52 
UtahYes https://www.animallaw.info/statute/ut-veterinary-chapter-28-veterinary-practice-act https://www.heraldextra.com/news/local/why-does-utah-county-have-the-highest-animal-euthanasia-rates-in-the-state/article_009ea267-af68-51d7-9c78-3f3c4b8f01b4.html 
VermontYes https://agriculture.vermont.gov/sites/agriculture/files/documents/Animal_Health/Euthanasia%20Rule.pdf 
VirginiaYes https://www.vdacs.virginia.gov/pdf/euthansiadirective.pdf 
WashingtonYes http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:igR41tSIGlAJ:https://app.leg.wa.gov/rcw/default.aspx?cite%3D16.52%26full%3Dtrue&hl=en&gl=bg&strip=1&vwsrc=0 
West VirginiaYes http://www.wvlegislature.gov/wvcode/chapterentire.cfm?chap=19&art=20&section=8 
WisconsinYes https://www.animallaw.info/statute/wi-impound-17323-disposition-animals 
WyomingYes https://library.municode.com/wy/laramie/codes/code_of_ordinances?nodeId=TIT6AN 

Additional information: American Veterinary Medical Association

Frequently asked questions about euthanizing healthy dogs


7 reasons why healthy dogs get euthanized


#1: Convenience euthanasia

Euthanizing A Healthy Dog Out Of Convenience

A lot of healthy dogs are euthanized daily. And the reason for this is convenience euthanasia.

This means that some keepers will choose to euthanize their dogs. 

Because they see their pooch as an interference to their lifestyle.

“But why?”

You see, there are 2 types of dog keepers. 

One that loves their dogs as a family member. Such people, I refer to as ‘dog parents’.

And the other who treats pooches as replaceable objects.

Those who see them as one of their loved ones will only choose euthanasia once their dog’s already old and sick. 

By euthanizing, they give their pooch a painless way to die.

They can cross over the rainbow bridge peacefully and without any suffering. 

However, this is also the reason why some keepers will want to euthanize their dogs. 

They can get rid of their dogs without any mess, if I must say.

It’s more convenient for them to have them euthanized. 

Rather than leave their poor pooches in a shelter. Or have them adopted. (Because of paperwork.)

Examples of convenience reasons why keepers will have their dogs euthanized

Ending a healthy dog’s life is unfair. 

But it’s the truth and reality, even before.

There are some valid reasons why dogs are euthanized. Like when they’re senile or they have terminal illnesses. In this case, it’s for the dog’s convenience.

But sadly, healthy dogs also die because of their keepers’ lack of humanity. And for a person’s own convenience.

Some keepers going on vacation have their healthy dogs euthanized. Because euthanasia is cheaper than boarding costs. 

The procedure costs $50 to $300. 

While a night in dog boarding starts from $25 to $600.

A dog keeper can also have their dog euthanized when a family member is sick. 

Or someone in the house is allergic to dogs. 

New parents had their dogs disposed of because a baby is underway. And they can’t have the dog near it.

A lot of healthy dogs are also put down because their keepers think they’re too noisy. 

Or simply, they just don’t want the dog anymore. 

Vets can refuse to perform euthanasia

Veterinarians are the people authorized to perform euthanasia. 

But this doesn’t mean that they can’t refuse to euthanize your dog. 

They have a moral obligation to cure and help dogs live a long life. Not to cut their lives short. 

This is why if you ask them to euthanize your pooch, they’ll give you an option. 

They’ll help your dog rehome or foster. Instead of having them killed. 

But vets are often faced with problems. 

This is because they can’t say no to euthanizing healthy dogs all the time. 

If they say no, the keeper will just go to another vet. And they don’t want to pass that kind of responsibility to other vets. 

Or the keeper may not proceed with euthanasia. But then the dog may face a lifetime of abuse or neglect. 

This is the reason why the suicide rate is a growing problem for veterinarians.

Study shows that from 1979 to 2015, 398 vets committed suicide. With 75% of them working with companion animals such as dogs. 

It’s sad, isn’t it?

Imagine putting a dog to sleep with their tails wagging. 

And they’re looking at you with their trusting eyes…

#2: Overpopulation

Many healthy dogs are euthanized because of overpopulation. 

This is because many keepers don’t have their dogs spayed or neutered. 

Thus resulting in puppy litters who often end up being strays. And then taken to animal shelters. 

But to control the number of animals in shelters, vets have to euthanize animals. 

Especially if they’re in there for too long. And new dogs keep coming without the previous ones getting adopted.

Or there is too much of their dog breed in the shelter.

#3: They’re considered unadoptable

Some Dogs Are Considered Unadoptable

Sometimes, healthy dogs are also euthanized because nobody wants them. 

Like in the case of Pitbulls and Chihuahuas. 

These 2 breeds are the 1st and 2nd most euthanized dogs in shelters. Because they’re considered unadoptable. 

But why do you think that is?

People find them unattractive.

And they don’t want to adopt them because of their breed stereotypes.

When you say Pitbulls, what’s the first thought you have?

Most people think they’re aggressive dogs.  

Often seen in mafias or drug dealers. Always attacking people and mauling other dogs.

And for Chihuahuas, well… they’re famous for being ankle-biters on the web. 

They don’t really have the best reputations. 

(Compared to other dog breeds like Golden Retrievers and Labradors.)

This contributes to why potential adopters don’t give them a second look in shelters. 

So vets in shelters have to make a hard decision. 

To avoid overpopulation, they must euthanize these breeds. 

Even if the dogs are healthy. 

#4: Relocation

Relocation is a part of a human’s life. 

But sometimes, people can’t bring their dogs with them to where they’re going. 

For instance, their keeper is going to an assisted living or a retirement home. 

And there’s no one to take care of the dog.

For them, there’s no other choice. But to have their pooches euthanized. 

Aside from that, moving to another country is also the reason why healthy dogs are put to sleep. 

Some keepers think dogs are disposable. And they can just get a new one anytime. 

#5: They’re aggressive

According to the law, a healthy dog who’s aggressive can also be euthanized. 

They’re potentially dangerous. 

Especially if they’ve bitten other dogs. Or a family member. 

Note: Vets can’t put a dog to sleep just because they’ve bitten once.

There has to be evidence proving they’re vicious. 

Or if the attack they’ve done is too violent. Like mauling or causing death. 

Also read: Why Is My Dog Suddenly Aggressive To Our Other Dog?

#6: Their keeper is dying or dead

Have you heard of the viral news in Virginia? 

A healthy Shih-Tzu named Emma was put to sleep when her dog parent died. 

In their will, it’s stated that she has to be euthanized. 

Because her guardian believed that Emma can’t cope in case she dies. 

People were mad. Even the vets opposed this idea.

The dog was very friendly, and it’ll be inhumane to end her life. When she could find another home. 

But alas! 

No laws or rules were broken in making of the will. 

So Emma, a perfectly healthy dog, was euthanized in the end. You can watch the news video below:

#7: They’re unclaimed or strays

Stray dogs who are taken to local pounds can be euthanized. Or ‘disposed of’ if they have no keepers. 

According to MSU, the holding time for a specific state differs. 

In case a dog’s unclaimed after holding time, they’ll be sold or taken to a shelter. Or they can also be euthanized. 

In most states, the holding time is 3 to 5 days. 

But in Hawaii, the guardians must claim their dogs after 2 days. 

While in Missouri, it’s up to 10 days. 

Bonus: They’re unbreedable or can’t get pregnant anymore

Dog breeders are one of the leading reasons why many dogs are euthanized. 

Because of them, there’s an oversupply of dogs in shelters. 

Even in animal stores.

Not just that. 

They also euthanize healthy dogs. 

Especially if that dog is unable to breed. Or they can’t get pregnant anymore. 

For instance, most female dogs handled by breeders are exhausted. Especially if they’re in a puppy mill.

They’re forced to get pregnant. 

And if their bodies can’t give birth anymore, they become worthless for the breeders.

Thus they have them euthanized. Or worse, killed using other methods. 


3 things to consider when euthanizing a healthy dog


#1: You can let others take care of your dog

Euthanasia isn’t the last option. 

Dogs are loyal companion animals. They’re not objects that you can replace anytime you wish to. 

Before deciding on putting them to sleep, consider letting them get adopted or fostered. 

Other people may be more than willing to take care of your dog.

Post them on Facebook or social media groups related to their breed.

You can also ask your friends and relatives. 

Or you can ask a shelter to take them. 

The chances of them getting adopted may not be guaranteed. But still, you’re still giving them a chance to live.  

#2: Think of the vet’s moral obligation

You’re having your dog euthanized because you can’t put them to sleep yourself. 

So you’re letting the vets do it instead. 

But try to look at this from their perspective, too.

They choose this career because they want to save animals. Not kill them. 

And no, they’re not thinking that this is just part of their job. 

This goes against what they want to do. Ending hundreds of lives of animals is taking a toll on them, too.

#3: Assess your dog

According to PetMD, you must know when a dog should be euthanized.

Assess your dog. 

If they’re living in a bad condition. Or they can’t control their bowels anymore. 

They can’t do the things they used to enjoy before. 

They can’t eat. Or they’re in pain.

These are the humane reasons when you should consider putting your dog to sleep.