Putting An Animal To Sleep

Dear Paul,

I was just wondering what our religion says about putting animals down if they are in pain. My family has a pet rabbit which is getting very old, has a broken foot, and is basically in a lot of pain. It makes me sad to see her like that, but I'm not so sure about putting her down either.

Dear Friend,

I am happy to inform you that this issue is actually addressed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, in sections 2415-2418, and I would encourage you to read those sections in their entirely.  However, I would like to specifically quote section 2418 for you right now -

"It is contrary to human dignity to cause animals to suffer or die needlessly. It is likewise unworthy to spend money on them that should as a priority go to the relief of human misery. One can love animals; one should not direct to them the affection due only to persons."

In light of the teaching of the Catechism, and in light of basic human kindness, I do not think you would be doing anything contrary to what our church teaches if you put your pet rabbit who is in so much pain to sleep. I think it might even be a kind and loving gesture.

I know that the loss of a pet can be an extremely heartbreaking situation.
You are in my prayers as you struggle with this sad situation.

God Bless,

Paul Masek
Coordinator of the REAP Team