Putting someone out of their misery

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Putting someone out of their misery

Postby Inge » Wed Jan 18, 2012 11:43 am

I brought the injured rabbit to the vet today. Her wound was so deep and infected that he gave her no chance of recovery, and advised strongly to kill her - claiming it would be animal abuse to allow her to die a slow "natural" death at home.

So from the point of view of what is best for the rabbit, what is the correct thing to do?

I brought her home, to give antibiotics and pain relief, but I don't know what is best for her.

If you have some knowledge of the subject, please respond quickly.

Thanks.
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Re: Putting someone out of their misery

Postby Dechen Norbu » Wed Jan 18, 2012 12:06 pm

It's very hard to say.
I think your choice was right.
Pain killers help in this situation and I assume it will be better for your pet to be around someone who cares.

Putting a being to death is just the ending of the current problems. As the materialistic approach assumes that all ends with death, pain would also end.
However, according to the Buddhist perspective, particularly the Tibetan schools, such is not the case. A death in a strange environment, stressful, can launch the being to a nasty experience in the bardo.
So if your bunny dies in a calm environment, with minimal pain and being good taken care of, that would be good.
Perhaps you even save it, who knows?
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Re: Putting someone out of their misery

Postby Dechen Norbu » Wed Jan 18, 2012 12:09 pm

Just be sure you give it adequate pain killers and antibiotics in the appropriate dose for its weight. Otherwise they won't help much by one side or you end up killing the rabbit yourself by the other. Were you properly informed about the dosages by the vet?
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Re: Putting someone out of their misery

Postby Clarence » Wed Jan 18, 2012 12:23 pm

I say to put her down. You can make such decisions for yourself (i.e. you want to suffer through the karma) but I don't think you can nor should make that decision for other beings. Just like I believe Christians should not be able to prohibit abortion for others just because they believe it is a sin.
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Re: Putting someone out of their misery

Postby Dechen Norbu » Wed Jan 18, 2012 12:31 pm

Clarence, you say put her down because you don't want the animal to suffer, right? You believe it will ease the pain if the being dies.
Well, pain killers do just that and you give the animal a better death. This is not a matter of imposing beliefs, but of avoiding the risks that a certain action carries.
You can't be sure what will happen after death. What you know is that if you kill the animal, any chance of helping it will be lost as you won't be able to make contact with it.
If the purpose is to avoid pain and for such effect you recommend death, I say better using pain killers. You get the same effect plus the possibility of taking care of the animal until its life ends. It's quite stressful for the animal to be killed in a strange environment in the vet's room. If she manages to keep the pain away and allows a more tranquil death in a known environment, I think that would be better.
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Re: Putting someone out of their misery

Postby Clarence » Wed Jan 18, 2012 12:50 pm

Dechen Norbu wrote:Clarence, you say put her down because you don't want the animal to suffer, right? You believe it will ease the pain if the being dies.
Well, pain killers do just that and you give the animal a better death. This is not a matter of imposing beliefs, but of avoiding the risks that a certain action carries.

Dechen Norbu, I understand where you are coming from and know your view is the best Buddhist opinion. However, I don't agree with it.

You can't be sure what will happen after death. What you know is that if you kill the animal, any chance of helping it will be lost as you won't be able to make contact with it.

How do you mean that? If we can make contact by eating meat, surely we can make contact with an animal we loved all its live.

If the purpose is to avoid pain and for such effect you recommend death, I say better using pain killers. You get the same effect plus the possibility of taking care of the animal until its life ends. It's quite stressful for the animal to be killed in a strange environment in the vet's room. If she manages to keep the pain away and allows a more tranquil death in a known environment, I think that would be better.

Not all animals have stress when they are put down. I lived on a farm for many years and the experiences vary widely. Not all pain can be kept away by pain killers. Also, pain can make both humans and animals depressed and extremely agitated, which brings me to the main reason to say "put her down". Namely, I think putting her down will make the transition into the Bardo easier (since the mind will be calmer) and thus better.

I look at it like this: If I get to be old, I also don't want to continue living if my mind gives in. I truly believe it would be better for me to die while I can still remember to recite mantras, rest in the natural state, do Phowa or whatever. Dying with delusions or extreme foggy-ness due to painkillers just seems wrong.
Yes, maybe I will have to experience a little more suffering in the next life but maybe I will be realized in the Bardo. Without a memory or working mind of the Dharma there is no chance. At least, I think so.

Of course, I am totally open to any and all corrections/suggestions. I don't know whether or not I will change my views but I am keeping an open mind.
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Re: Putting someone out of their misery

Postby Dechen Norbu » Wed Jan 18, 2012 2:09 pm

Clarence wrote:Dechen Norbu, I understand where you are coming from and know your view is the best Buddhist opinion. However, I don't agree with it.

You're free to do so. :smile:

How do you mean that? If we can make contact by eating meat, surely we can make contact with an animal we loved all its live.

It's not the same. By eating meat you create a karmic debt with the dead being that will bare its effect later. You don't kill it (that, done by enlightened beings is liberation, beyond our capacities). You just create a debt with the already dead being.
What I meant is that if you allow the vet to kill the animal, you lose the possibility to help it right now, when the being is in pain.

Not all animals have stress when they are put down. I lived on a farm for many years and the experiences vary widely. Not all pain can be kept away by pain killers. Also, pain can make both humans and animals depressed and extremely agitated, which brings me to the main reason to say "put her down". Namely, I think putting her down will make the transition into the Bardo easier (since the mind will be calmer) and thus better.

I'm not talking about what happens to all animals. My experience tells me they are usually agitated when they go to the vet.
It's right that some animals (humans and non humans) have paradoxical effects when under the effect of pain killers, but usually sedation calms the organism. That is always possible if you use the correct sedative. There are plenty available in the market.
Of course the sedation has effects when a being enters the bardo, but it's better sedation than stress unless one is an advanced practitioner. This is clearly not the case of the bunny.
I look at it like this: If I get to be old, I also don't want to continue living if my mind gives in. I truly believe it would be better for me to die while I can still remember to recite mantras, rest in the natural state, do Phowa or whatever. Dying with delusions or extreme foggy-ness due to painkillers just seems wrong.
Yes, maybe I will have to experience a little more suffering in the next life but maybe I will be realized in the Bardo. Without a memory or working mind of the Dharma there is no chance. At least, I think so.

When you get old you'll do as you please. The bunny didn't express an opinion, so it's not safe to assume it wants the same you do when you are older. What were you saying about pushing our beliefs? ;)
Not all pain killers result in extreme fuzziness. Extreme pain main be worse. In the case of an animal, pain killers are helpful because they can't practice. So sedating them and providing them a calm death in a place they know and like, in the company of their human friends seems more compassionate than killing them.


Of course, I am totally open to any and all corrections/suggestions. I don't know whether or not I will change my views but I am keeping an open mind.

Usually we put animals down because we can't stand our own pain of watching them die and want it all to end fast. I'm not saying this is your case, by any means!
We often rationalize it was a compassionate action, but we need to check this twice. Of course many people believe that they are putting an end to suffering and only want to protect the animal, but pain can be lessened with correct medication. By hasting death, we really don't know what will happen.
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Re: Putting someone out of their misery

Postby Clarence » Wed Jan 18, 2012 4:38 pm

Dechen Norbu wrote:You're free to do so. :smile:

Thank you. :smile:

It's not the same. By eating meat you create a karmic debt with the dead being that will bare its effect later. You don't kill it (that, done by enlightened beings is liberation, beyond our capacities). You just create a debt with the already dead being.
What I meant is that if you allow the vet to kill the animal, you lose the possibility to help it right now, when the being is in pain.

I think I understand. However, if you continue that logic further, then you shouldn't give pain killers either as the animal then will also not fully experience the fruit of his/her karma. It is on pain killers and thus not suffering.

Im not talking about what happens to all animals. My experience tells me they are usually agitated when they go to the vet.
It's right that some animals (humans and non humans) have paradoxical effects when under the effect of pain killers, but usually sedation calms the organism. That is always possible if you use the correct sedative. There are plenty available in the market.
Of course the sedation has effects when a being enters the bardo, but it's better sedation than stress unless one is an advanced practitioner. This is clearly not the case of the bunny.

Still, some will be agitated and some won't. And, I don't know about where Inge lives but here the vet will come to the house to put the animal down. Yes, you are probably right there are enough sedatives which calm. I have no experience with pain killers or sedatives--neither personally nor profesionally--so I believe you. How does sedation effect beings in the Bardo? I am sure it does something but I would not know what exactly. You probably received more teachings on the subject than I did.

When you get old you'll do as you please. The bunny didn't express an opinion, so it's not safe to assume it wants the same you do when you are older. What were you saying about pushing our beliefs? ;)

Touché. :smile: But... putting an animal down is generally accepted practice. Keeping it alive and let it die by itself is not (at least not to my knowledge). I guess my main reason for arguing the opposite of most Buddhist views is that I don't want Inge to feel guilty no matter what she decides. Life sucks.

Not all pain killers result in extreme fuzziness. Extreme pain main be worse. In the case of an animal, pain killers are helpful because they can't practice. So sedating them and providing them a calm death in a place they know and like, in the company of their human friends seems more compassionate than killing them.

Yes, but putting them down equals a calm death to me. I think it is possible.

Usually we put animals down because we can't stand our own pain of watching them die and want it all to end fast. I'm not saying this is your case, by any means!

Well, you are probably right. No offense taken by the way. I am aware my view might not be in complete agreement with Buddhist orthodoxy and is probably caused because I leave a tiny speck of room for the possibility that life just ends when we die. Not really but just in case. :smile:

We often rationalize it was a compassionate action, but we need to check this twice. Of course many people believe that they are putting an end to suffering and only want to protect the animal, but pain can be lessened with correct medication. By hasting death, we really don't know what will happen.

Checking our motivations is always a good thing. I agree with your last sentence contrary though it may seem in light of the rest of my post.

I wonder about more thing though. Often, though not in this case, we have extended the lives of our animals by a lot of medical means previously unavailable. They would be long gone if it weren't for the pills we give them twice/thrice a day. So, don't you think that when they become really sick, since we actually extended their life and thus causing them more suffering, we should be the ones to take responsibility and decide to end it as well. However hard this may be?

Anyway, Inge, whatever you decide is right. Your motivation is pure and your rabbit is in great hands. Om Mani Padme Hum for your rabbit.
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Re: Putting someone out of their misery

Postby Paul » Wed Jan 18, 2012 6:03 pm

Personally, I think it's treading on dangerous ground to start saying "it's better that you die" for another being. I really don't like the idea. There is some parallel with the issue of euthanasia here in the UK which seems to be becoming framed as "when is a person's life not worth living?" - something I'd rather not have someone else decide for me, that's for certain. I also am not sure of the value of rushing something that is inevitable anyway.
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Re: Putting someone out of their misery

Postby Dechen Norbu » Wed Jan 18, 2012 6:17 pm

Clarence wrote:Thank you. :smile:

There's no need to thank me about this! :lol:

I think I understand. However, if you continue that logic further, then you shouldn't give pain killers either as the animal then will also not fully experience the fruit of his/her karma. It is on pain killers and thus not suffering.

He is experiencing it alright. Still, we can help beings when they are experiencing the results of negative karma. There is also positive karma in action when a being has someone that cares for him. The point here is not only allowing the being to ripen the results of karma. It's also of helping it to have a serene process of dying.

Still, some will be agitated and some won't. And, I don't know about where Inge lives but here the vet will come to the house to put the animal down. Yes, you are probably right there are enough sedatives which calm. I have no experience with pain killers or sedatives--neither personally nor profesionally--so I believe you. How does sedation effect beings in the Bardo? I am sure it does something but I would not know what exactly. You probably received more teachings on the subject than I did.

In the case of an animal it matters little as it can't practice in the bardo, afaik. So it's more a matter of giving it a death in a known, calm environment.

Touché. :smile: But... putting an animal down is generally accepted practice. Keeping it alive and let it die by itself is not (at least not to my knowledge). I guess my main reason for arguing the opposite of most Buddhist views is that I don't want Inge to feel guilty no matter what she decides. Life sucks.

We screw things all the time due to our ignorance, habits, you name it. It's as you say, life sucks. We screw things even when we don't want to. My first words were "it's hard to say", because not having fully developed supramundane perception one can only guess what's involved in a situation like this. Mainly her intention is what counts in terms of karma, since the animal is really sick and all. My main problem here is that sometimes vets give up too soon and rather kill the animal than save it added to the fact that it seems best if the animal has the best death possible. I went through this a lot of times and it's not easy. Not always things work well and sometimes these experiences are hard.

Yes, but putting them down equals a calm death to me. I think it is possible.

I considered that hypothesis too. An easy, quick death to avoid further suffering, right? But after thinking a long time about it and reading all I could, it still seems better to provide a better environment so that the animal dies with the most comfort possible, naturally. Death is never pretty, not mattering the path we chose.


Well, you are probably right. No offense taken by the way. I am aware my view might not be in complete agreement with Buddhist orthodoxy and is probably caused because I leave a tiny speck of room for the possibility that life just ends when we die. Not really but just in case. :smile:

Life ends, that you can be sure of. Life and death are both deluded perceptions.

Checking our motivations is always a good thing. I agree with your last sentence contrary though it may seem in light of the rest of my post.

I understand your point and your dilemma. Your motivation is also noble.

I wonder about more thing though. Often, though not in this case, we have extended the lives of our animals by a lot of medical means previously unavailable. They would be long gone if it weren't for the pills we give them twice/thrice a day. So, don't you think that when they become really sick, since we actually extended their life and thus causing them more suffering, we should be the ones to take responsibility and decide to end it as well. However hard this may be?

I prefer to think medicine is the result of positive karma. As long as it is positive, we should use it. However, we must be mindful that all that is born eventually dies.

Anyway, Inge, whatever you decide is right. Your motivation is pure and your rabbit is in great hands. Om Mani Padme Hum for your rabbit.

Indeed. Right or not is not the point. The point is that her rabbit is in great hands.

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Re: Putting someone out of their misery

Postby Clarence » Wed Jan 18, 2012 6:42 pm

Thank you DN. I appreciate your thoughtful comments. I will think about this some more when the time arises. You bring up some good points. I hope, with you, that Inge's rabbit will be relieved of his/her suffering soon--no matter the way in which it happens.
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Re: Putting someone out of their misery

Postby Inge » Wed Jan 18, 2012 10:51 pm

Dechen Norbu wrote:Just be sure you give it adequate pain killers and antibiotics in the appropriate dose for its weight. Otherwise they won't help much by one side or you end up killing the rabbit yourself by the other. Were you properly informed about the dosages by the vet?

Yes, I was informed about the dosages. It's not so easy to force her to swallow the correct amount though.
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Re: Putting someone out of their misery

Postby Inge » Wed Jan 18, 2012 11:01 pm

Dechen Norbu wrote:It's very hard to say.
I think your choice was right.
Pain killers help in this situation and I assume it will be better for your pet to be around someone who cares.

Putting a being to death is just the ending of the current problems. As the materialistic approach assumes that all ends with death, pain would also end.
However, according to the Buddhist perspective, particularly the Tibetan schools, such is not the case. A death in a strange environment, stressful, can launch the being to a nasty experience in the bardo.
So if your bunny dies in a calm environment, with minimal pain and being good taken care of, that would be good.
Perhaps you even save it, who knows?


This is more or less what I was thinking. I question the assumption that one are better off dead.

As for providing a stressfree etc. environment, that is not so easy, as the rabbit is semi wild, and it is cold here in Norway, so I have to keep her inside, which she hates. And also she is quite afraid of me, so it is just not so very peaceful for her.

I also think she might survive.
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Re: Putting someone out of their misery

Postby Inge » Wed Jan 18, 2012 11:08 pm

Clarence wrote:I say to put her down. You can make such decisions for yourself (i.e. you want to suffer through the karma) but I don't think you can nor should make that decision for other beings. Just like I believe Christians should not be able to prohibit abortion for others just because they believe it is a sin.

If this is so, as all beings suffer, then why don't kill everybody?

But do you think it is better to force someone to take abortion?
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Re: Putting someone out of their misery

Postby Beatzen » Wed Jan 18, 2012 11:16 pm

Inge wrote:
Clarence wrote:I say to put her down. You can make such decisions for yourself (i.e. you want to suffer through the karma) but I don't think you can nor should make that decision for other beings. Just like I believe Christians should not be able to prohibit abortion for others just because they believe it is a sin.

If this is so, as all beings suffer, then why don't kill everybody?

But do you think it is better to force someone to take abortion?


Forced abortion? I'm in the united states. Here we're worried about Christians bombing abortion clinics. Weird, huh?
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Re: Putting someone out of their misery

Postby Inge » Wed Jan 18, 2012 11:18 pm

Is it not one correct way to deal with such situations? Even among buddist teachers there seem to be no agreement of what is the right thing to do. For instance Hsuan Hua have said that in the animals fundamental consciousness they will know if you decide to end their life, and they will be very disappointed with you. And I heard about another teacher who wanted all his students to follow his example of ending the life of injured animals.
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Re: Putting someone out of their misery

Postby Beatzen » Wed Jan 18, 2012 11:30 pm

In the case of humans, it's simpler. Legislating for assisted suicide might spare lots of people from unimaginable pain. But with animals, I think this shows the hidden danger of domestication and keeping pets. You become responsible for them in ways that inhibit their freedom as a sentient being. I believe they are reborn as animals because they like to spend most of their time making themselves comfortable. Looking for food, proper shelter, mates. In this way animals are very self absorbed and dull.

Many humans emulate animals in this way. They may be reborn as animals.

In closing, I think the moral is not to keep pets for exactly this reason.
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Re: Putting someone out of their misery

Postby wisdom » Thu Jan 19, 2012 8:08 am

Would you want someone to put you down, just give up and be like "yeah, hes a goner..." or would you want someone to try to save your life even if the chances were slim? I say, go with the painkillers and antibiotics. Also you could perform tonglen as well as meditate on it being better, being free from pain, and so forth. You could make an offering to medicine Buddha and pray to him to help. If nothing else animals can feel our emotions towards them, if you are loving towards it, that might give it the right kind of energy to live, or at least when it dies have a better rebirth.

Edit: Now I read the part about semi-wild. Still, I say do what you can.
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Re: Putting someone out of their misery

Postby Thug4lyfe » Thu Jan 19, 2012 11:42 pm

Best thing to do is to chant the Buddha's name to da soon to die, not to mention commit meritrious deeds on their behalf!
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Re: Putting someone out of their misery

Postby AdmiralJim » Fri Jan 20, 2012 1:49 am

How do we know this illness is the result of karma? I remember an interesting discussion about euthanasia in another forum and it amazes me the stance of some people, it reminds me of Jainism - which the Buddha rejected.
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