Can I Euthanize a Pet?

Question
Can I euthanize a pet?
Answer
Thanks for your question. I'm sorry that you have to consider such an option. We can grow very attached to our pets. We desire what is the very best for them.

There is a difference between animal life and human life. God made animals on the fifth day of creation (Gen. 1:20-25), while he made man on the sixth (Gen. 1:26-27; 2:4-25). A great distinction exists between animals and man; God created man with a living soul (Gen. 2:7) and in his own image (Gen. 1:27), but animals were not created in this way.

In addition, in Genesis 1 man was given authority over the animal kingdom (Gen. 1:26-30). This fact is also emphasized in Genesis 2:19-20, where Adam named the animals. The act of naming the animals shows lordship or dominion over them (cf. Gen. 3:20; 17:5, 15, etc.).

However, with lordship comes responsibility. The creation of animals was "very good" (Gen. 1:31). The breath of life resides in them (Gen. 7:15). God cares for animals (Psa. 104:14, 16-18, 20-21, 24, 27-28, 29; Jonah 4:11; Matt. 10:29). God himself enjoys his animals (Psa. 104:18-30, 31, 34).

So, from this we learn that a righteous man will care for the needs of his animals (Prov. 12:10). This is a huge responsibility, as God even exempts man from his ordnance not to work on the Sabbath to care for animals in certain types of situations (Luke 14:5). However, Scripture also informs us that when an animal is a threat to human life it is to be put down (Exod. 21:28-35).

So, while we should be merciful to our pets we also find that if the need arises, we have the authority to end their lives. If there is no hope of recovery, we should not let our pets suffer. So, biblically euthanizing a pet is not against Scripture.

Related Topics:

Death of Animals and Man - Ecclesiastes 3:19
How does the soul of a man originate?
At the Moment of Conception

Answer by Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr.

Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr., D.D., M.Div. is the Theological Editor at Third Millennium Ministries (IIIM).