Dog Owner Ethics: The Suicide and the Pitcher

Does one of these nice creatures not belong in this picture? Ontario says yes. The correct answer is  no.

Does one of these nice creatures not belong in this picture? Ontario says yes. The correct answer is no.

Our life-changing events often become crises for our canine companions. In the news today: ethical  and unethical responses in such circumstances, by two individuals in the public eye.

The Unethical

Mindy McReady, the troubled country music star, committed suicide Sunday on the front porch of the home she shared with her boyfriend, who had recently committed suicide there as well. She apparently killed the couple’s dog before taking her own life. McReady’s friends insist that she didn’t kill the dog out of malice, but because she didn’t want to leave the dog alone. Granted, McReady deserves consideration and compassion, since her actions that day were not those dictated by a healthy or fully functioning mind. Still, I read of dog owners doing this a lot, and I’ve known a few—not committing suicide, but killing their dogs when they knew they wouldn’t be able to keep them any more, on the theory that the dog would be happier dead than with new owners.

This is, shall we say, presumptuous. From the dog’s point of view, it couldn’t matter less whether he is killed out of malice or a warped sense of kindness. Animals like to live. The rationale that it is kinder to kill them than to give them the opportunity to find a new home is the epitome of human arrogance. If the dog could talk, my guess is he’d say, “You know, I’ll really miss you, but let’s not go overboard. I’m not Hachi. I’ll get over it. Bye, and thanks for the treats.”

The Exemplary

Major League pitcher Mark Buehrle and his wife have a well-established record as dog-lovers, and have made this blog’s rolls of Ethics Heroes for a previous  example of canine kindness. Over the winter, Buehrle, whose name I can never remember how to spell, was one of many stars added to Canada’s sole MLB entry, the Toronto Blue Jays, as the team decided it was sick of finishing third in the American League East and made a push to win the toughest division in sports this summer. The Buehrles own four dogs, one of which is a pit bull-Staffordshire terrier mix. The Canadian province of Ontario is one of the benighted, confused and bigoted jurisdictions that bans pit bulls and their various hybrids, so rather than leave his dog behind (or shoot him on the front porch), the family isn’t moving to Toronto, as they had originally planned.

“It’s something we’re going to deal with,” Buehrle said. “It’s going to be tough at the beginning, not seeing your kids, but people deal with it and we’ll make it work….We’ve had people say, `Oh, you can bring them up here. Knowing you have money, no one’s going to take your dog because they know you’re going to fight against it. But the thing is, Slater will have to sit in a cage until that court date gets there, and that could be two weeks, it could be three months. If people don’t own dogs, they’re not going to understand you’re leaving your family and your kids behind over a dog.”

No they won’t, but Buehrle is treating Slater like a member of the family, which he is. “He’s an awesome dog,” Buehrle told the press. “That’s what’s a shame; just the way he looks is why we have to get separated.” True, which is another possible good result of the family’s decision. The more attention focused on the bigoted, ignorant and unfair pit bull bans, the sooner we’ll be rid of them. People and children are in considerably less peril in the company of pit bull-Staffordshire terrier raised by loving owners like Mark and Jamie Buehrle than they are when they hang around, well, me.


Facts and Graphic: The Blaze

Source: Fox News

Ethics Alarms attempts to give proper attribution and credit to all sources of facts, analysis and other assistance that go into its blog posts. If you are aware of one I missed, or believe your own work was used in any way without proper attribution, please contact me, Jack Marshall, at

24 thoughts on “Dog Owner Ethics: The Suicide and the Pitcher

  1. Reblogged this on DeborahBidwell's Blog and commented:
    ethics towards all breeds of dogs is needed, the pit bull and their related breeds are not the problem but people that train them to kill and maim are. Michael Vick got a slap on the wrist and the dogs were destroyed because of his dog fighting ring, where is the justice in that? I dont care if he is a celebrity he should be held to higher standard not given a slap and fine when some fine animals were destroyed due to his choices, I commend this baseball player who wont allow his dog to be used by the Ontario Govt

    • Thanks, but remember: Vick did go to jail, and some of his pit bulls were saved, rehabilitated and adopted. He lost millions of dollars and, for a while, his career. We can’t really say he wasn’t punished severely.

      • I understand that, but as an animal lover I truly believe he got off light considering his position in the NFL league, and very few of the dogs 5 out of 20 if I remember correctly were rehabilitated and saved, the other 15 were put down. I believe in people making mistakes, its in our nature, but I believe the league as well as the courts were lenient on him in consideration for his “talents”

  2. Regarding the first entry, I recall an instance where they took it even further. In ’97, a failed West Palm Beach real estate developer and his wife, despondent after their assets dwindled down to one house and one car, and barely able to pay his 8-yr old son’s private school tuition, decided to commit suicide together. Before doing themselves in, they murdered their son in his sleep, citing the same logic as McReady, to spare him the emotional trauma and to prevent him being a financial burden on others.

    I read about this the day after a production of Death of a Salesman I was in had closed. The parallels were eerie.

      • And it bothers me greatly when I hear the argument used to justify abortion, as well. I’ll be talking with a seemingly rational person and then a varient of the phrase ‘well, if they aren’t aborted, they’ll grow up poor or abused. And who would want that for them? It’s for their own good.’ And then my poor boggled mind has to come to terms with the sheer arrogance of the person I now know to be completely adrift on the seas of rationality. Or slap the stupid out of them. It would be for their own good, after all…

        • I think you’re confusing “a stupid opinion” with “an opinion I passionately disagree with.” You may find it reprehensible that someone would argue from the point of view that to not live at all is better than living a life of more pain than pleasure, but there’s nothing implicitly irrational about it. I don’t want to turn this into a debate about abortion, but that reasoning is indeed relevant to the topic of this post.

          My view is very much in line with the comment that you were replying to, wherein Jack said “‘Better off dead’ is a determination that should rest with the potential dead-ee.” That is not to say that “better off dead” is never the case. It may be, and it’s unfortunate that in addition to not being able to say, “I’ll get over it,” a dog also can’t say “you’re right, I’d rather not go through the coming months or years being unloved, kept in cages, and waiting to be dispassionately dispatched by lethal injection.”

          Presuming to kill the dog and deprive it of autonomy in this kind of situation is the wrong decision, but it’s not a decision that’s simply based on stupidity.

  3. I don’t know. t reads like this guy chose the dog over getting to see his kids, and put a huge strain on his marriage, which very well may not survive it. Which is an unfathomable choice to me. If he was that concerned, why not move the family up to Canada, and have a caretaker watch his dog, visiting it when he can? This way at least the rest of the family is not bearing the ill effects of his unwillingness to risk the dog, and he would probably still see the dog just as much.

    • I think that’s a good and valid observation. The pitcher and his wife are certified animal lovers on a grand scale, though. Baseball players hardly see their family during the season no matter where they live, on the other hand. In exchange, they have 6 months at home without working, and also the rest of their life after about 36, because they’re rich as Croesus. And if you have a dog, you know leaving him with caretaker is cruel. Dogs need their pack. His best options were to give the dog to someone else for good (the dog would have adjusted) or what he did.

    • I don’t know. t reads like this guy chose the AIDS infected kid over getting to see his regular kids, and put a huge strain on his marriage, which very well may not survive it. Which is an unfathomable choice to me. If he was that concerned, why not move the family up to Canada, and have a caretaker watch his AIDS infected kid, visiting it when he can? This way at least the rest of the family is not bearing the ill effects of his unwillingness to risk the AIDS infected kid, and he would probably still see the AIDS infected kid just as much.

      —Parallel to the US’s former AIDS immigration ban.

      • I think the special circumstances are that 1) the wife is as much of a dog nut as he is 2) there is no overarching crisis among the kids he has 3) evening it all out, the families of MLB players still see an awful lot of them, just concentrated in a six month period—remember, many if not most of the South American players are in this situation, and 4) this may be one of those marriages where the wife is perfectly happy to have six months of peace to go with her 50% of 10 million or so.

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