Offensive euphemisms of our time (#1)

Maybe this will become a series.

The late Otto and his humans

Human euthanasia is universally regarded as a very bad thing, and I fully subscribe to this moral consensus. The assisted suicide of those suffering from unbearably painful and incurable physical conditions is not so clear cut, but at least we can discuss the subject openly and substantively, and do so without resorting to linguistic game playing and genteelism. Why then do we insist on using the term “put to sleep” when referring to the mercy killing of non-human animals?

This has always bothered me deeply, right from the time in my early teens when I witnessed my beloved pet cat Schröder being injected with a fatal dose of barbiturate. The poor moggy had for some time been suffering terribly from an acute psychiatric disorder, and I’m sure that what my mother and I did was right.

But one thing must be said: we killed our cat.

I’m reminded today of how offensive I find the term “put to sleep” by a typically human interest story published on the BBC News website. And I do mean human interest, because the late Otto from Shropshire who features in the piece is not really what it’s all about, is he?

RIP Otto the Dachshund.