Opinions | The Guilt of Putting Down Your Pet

To the Editors:

Re “Ending Your Pet’s Life Was the Right Decision. So Why Do You Feel So Guilty?,” by Karen Fine (Opinion guest essay, April 4):

Dr. Fine’s article really hit home for me. I still play the “what if” and “was it too soon?” guilt tape 10 months after euthanizing my beloved dog, Bella.

She was 14, semi-incontinent and hard of hearing, and suffered three major seizures the day before she was put down. She had been living with a mass in her liver that was probably cancer for at least a year. I had done everything I could think of — giving her a special diet, Chinese herbs, acupuncture every couple of weeks and vitamin C infusions, and taking her to regular vet checkups.

But after her seizures, my struggle to find pet sitters before a weeklong trip, and a discussion with my vet, who agreed it was time, I arranged for an at-home vet appointment.

The morning of the appointment, she seemed to rally a bit and trotted around the yard as normal. Joined by friends, we did a goodbye ceremony in the backyard and sang to her as the vet did the die.

Despite all this, I still wonder if we could have had some more time. Rationally, I know it was the right time and the right decision, but it’s just so hard to say goodbye to a beloved family member.

Diana Halpenny

To the Editors:

Our family cat, Winchester, was euthanized at 20 years of age. As a kitten, he was found underneath the family car, gagging, drooling and breathing erratically from tick paralysis. After his recovery, he lived an enriched, uncomplaining life, cuddling into my bed at the break of winter dawn, seeking my warm breath with his frosty nose.

The decision to let go of our furry family members in his unhappy old age was made simple. Because of his frailty and his age, we declined a blood transfusion and kidney transplant for his severe renal failure, as we would then be obliged to adopt a donor from the pound.

Windy’s time on Earth was as best as we could give him, and there is joy in remembering that still, 20 years after I cradle his warm but lifeless body in my arms.

Joseph Ting
Brisbane, Australia

To the Editors:

This article was published the day after I euthanized my 1-year-old Chihuahua, Zoey, after she was attacked by a cat. The cat pulled her down and clawed her thighs and back. Her wounds were extensive. She spent two weeks in a vet hospital, and three weeks going back frequently for bandage-changing.

She was a trouper through all of this. We finally took her up to the Cornell University Hospital for Animals, where, after examining her, the vet told us her wounds were so extensive that further treatment would cost a fortune with no guarantee for a good outcome. They suggested the euthanasia. My heart was broken.

We came home and spent a few days with her, taking her on long walks in a doggy carriage, spending time at the beach in the sun, giving her all her favorite foods and lots of ice cream, plus all my love and affection. She was a sweet fun-loving pup.

The words of Karen Fine, who tells us to think of all the love and fun and laughs that our pets give us, give me comfort.

Julianna Crombie
EastHampton, New York

To the Editors:

Re “AI Threats Lawyers? We’ve Heard This Before” (Business, April 10):

I am a recently retired trial lawyer, and my 40 years of experience lead me to believe that AI could be beneficially applied to the judicial branch of government, especially appellate courts, both intermediate and courts of last resort.

The appellate court’s AI program would analyze the complete trial court record and the competing arguments presented in the briefs and generate questions to be asked at oral argument.

Then, based on an AI analysis of the full trial court record, appellate briefing and oral argument, the court’s AI program would generate a detailed, reasoned opinion that specifically addresses each of the competing issues and arguments by applying the rules of logic and the applicable laws, statutory and court-made, of the jurisdiction in question.

I suggest that judges use AI as a part of their decision-making process and that the output from the AI ​​be made a part of the court’s record, but not a part of the official decision, order or opinion.

Perhaps some university law schools and computer science schools could jointly run some tests using a mixture of hypothetical and actual court cases. If nothing else, the results would be very informative.

J.Robert Beatty
Manchester-by-the-Sea, Mass.

To the Editors:

Re “Beware the Heckler’s Veto,” by Jamelle Bouie (column, April 2):

Mr. Bouie really misses the mark describing what motivated parents to have certain materials removed from schools. Our objections are not based on what makes our children feel “uncomfortable”; rather our objections stem from instructing children in what is contrary to morality rooted in the natural law — a common sense of morality that transcends culture, religion and time.

This is why Muslim parents objecting to sexually explicit books in Michigan have common ground with Christian parents in opposing what we consider blatantly pornographic books being made available in schools.

The “parents’ rights” movement is not about empowering “a conservative and reactionary minority of parents.” Instead, we aim to correct schools’ gross usurpation of power in exposing minors entrusted to their care for sexually explicit material.

Amanda Bonagura
Floral Park, NY

To the Editors:

Re “To Save Elephants: All Buzz, No Kill” (Science Times, April 4):

I really want to be optimistic on this topic, but these reports of shiny new technological solutions to save Africa’s declining elephant population leave me deeply skeptical.

For decades, The Times has dutifully reported on the next big thing that will save the pachyderms: anti-poaching drones, genetic testing to trace ivory, satellite-linked tracking tags, and now a “BuzzBox” to mimic bees. But the truth is that their numbers continue to plummet.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature reported in 2021 that “the number of African forest elephants fell by more than 86 percent over a period of 31 years, while the population of African savanna elephants decreased by at least 60 percent over the last 50 years .”

Tech-obsessed Westerners are fond of the notion that gizmos will solve the problems of poor countries, but anyone who knows Africa understands that the real issues are population growth, pressure on wildlife habitat, weak and corrupt institutions, and international poaching and trafficking operations, often linked to Asia.

Chris Hennemeyer
The writer is a humanitarian response expert and consultant.

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