We treat dogs better than people for a peaceful end-of-life

Jun 9, 2016 | 0 comments

Today, June 9, 2016, the state of California begins allowing physician aid in dying. Terminally-ill people desperate for a peaceful end-of-life option are breathing a sigh of relief. We’ve been giving this option to our dogs and cats for decades – now a few more people can get it too.

It took the actions of 29-year old Brittany Maynard, a Californian with brain cancer, to get the state to sit up and take action on physician aid in dying. She established residency in Oregon so she could make a peaceful exit at the time of her choosing on November 1, 2014.

Ironically, this Monday, a celebrated 16 year old search dog was put down. It made national news.

Bretagne and Denise Corliss

Denise Corliss and Bretagne

Bretagne (pronounced Brittany – coincidence?), believed to be the last surviving 9/11 Ground Zero search dog, was euthanized on June 6. Old age had slowed the golden retriever down, and it was time to put her to sleep.

The firefighters at the Cy-Fair Fire Department in Harris County, Texas, lined the path up to the Fairfield Animal Hospital, as her owner, Denise Corliss, walked her in to be put to sleep. They also lined the sidewalk as her body, draped in an American flag, was carried out.

If we can end our animals’ suffering when they’re old and in pain, there should be a legal way for all human beings to legally make a decision for ending their own suffering.

California’s new law quadruples the number of Americans with legal access to end-of-life medications. California has now joined Oregon, Washington, Montana and Vermont, the other states that currently authorize physician aid in dying.

Compassion & Choices President Barbara Coombs Lee explained the best way to access California’s End of Life Options Act in this blog post. As she describes it, “Thanks to California’s End of Life Option Act law taking effect today, terminally ill adults in California with less than six months to live finally have the option to ask their doctor for prescription medication they can decide to take, so they can die peacefully in their sleep, if their suffering becomes unbearable.”

You can find out more at Compassion & Choices website, www.EndOfLifeOptions.org.

Despite great advances in medical care, we all have a 100% mortality rate. I’m all for hospice and palliative care involvement when it makes sense in the course of disease treatment. People need to access those services sooner rather than later.

Consider the stories of Brittany and Bretagne. Let’s take a hard look at how we treat our people compared to our pets at end-of-life. Pets get the easier out, while people have to suffer.

A Good Goodbye