Buddhism and Putting an Animal To Sleep

Hello Sumitta,
Hope you are doing well this week. For the last few weeks, I have been doing more and more reading and attempting to follow some of the guidelines laid out in the Dhamma. Last week I saw something that gave me questions, and I was hoping to get your view on the matter. My brother has a large dog. Last week the dog’s hip completely gave out and he could only walk by dragging himself. After calling the vet and everyone else he knew, the only humane solution was to put him down. My brother loved this dog dearly, and it broke my heart to see him have to make that decision, and it broke my heart for the dog as well. Looking at it from my brother’s view, the compassionate thing to do was to end the dog’s suffering. My question is, where does one draw the line between compassion for a suffering animal and the first precept – do not kill? I have reflected on this for quite some time and thought I might ask someone with a little more knowledge.
Dear Dhamma Follower,

It is challenging to deal with the first precept. Do you kill fleas to stop the pain of a dog. Do you kill to protect yourself? Do you kill to eat? Should you put your animal   down if it is suffering?What most people fail to note is that there are always two sides to the precepts, just as there are two sides to a blade. As we take on the precept and affirmation to do no harm or killing— we often forget that it is also a precept to develop compassion.

So when making a decision of such importance ask which decision is the most compassionate. When putting the animal to sleep– what is your motivation? Convenience or compassion? Meditate on the decision and be honest within your heart: you will know the answer.

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Categories: Buddha, Dharma, Divorce, Ethics, Four Noble Truths, Kharma, Lifestyle, Mahayana, Marriage, Meditation, New Age, Noble Eightfold Path, Philosophy, Relationships, Theravada, Tibet, Virajana, Work


Born Joshua Hudson, Reverend Sumitta (his ordained name) finished a twenty-year career as a military photo-journalist, and became a Licensed Social Worker with continuing studies in Mental Health, Healthcare Advocate, and Buddhist Minister. Currently, he works as the Director of Psychological Health for the U.S. Air Force. Previously, he served as the healthcare patient advocate for the Veterans Healthcare Administration, and is a License Clinical Social Worker, with a Master’s in Clinical Social Work at the University of Pittsburgh, working as a drug and alcohol rehabilitation counselor, public speaker, trainer and personal/family advisor. His dharma name "Sumitta," which translates to "Good Friend" in Pali.


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