Drowning is not OK

Posted on 21/07/2015

Drowning is a cruel way to kill any animal, and newborns are likely to suffer even more than older animals.

This is because all newborn mammals, even human babies, have a ‘diving reflex’ that means they automatically hold their breath in water. Consequently it takes longer for them to lose consciousness than it would if they inhaled water (‘wet’ drowning).

Recent research at Massey University confirms that air deprivation causes severe distress and immense pain that can continue for many minutes. Researchers say that drowning is never ‘euthanasia’, because by definition ‘euthanasia’ means ‘a kind or humane death’. Drowning is not humane because of the suffering experienced before loss of consciousness and the time taken for the animal to lose consciousness. This suffering is even greater in the ‘dry’ drowning experienced by newborns.

Drowning puppies and kittens may be easy and cheap, but it is also a crime under the Animal Welfare Act because it causes unnecessary and unreasonable pain and distress. Anyone found guilty will be heavily penalised, by fines up to $75,000 or up to 3 yrs imprisonment.

Many people are unaware of their moral and legal obligations not to kill animals by forced drowning, and so it’s all too common.

Drowning is not an acceptable alternative to humane euthanasia by a veterinarian. For those who can’t afford that option, help is available.

If you suspect anyone of drowning animals, report it to SPCA Otago - 0800 682 467 or 4738252. Calls such as this are treated in confidence.

Forced drowning of animals is never OK.

 (Marjorie Orr - 19th July 2015)