Last Moments: Witnessing and Representing the Death of Pets
This chapter explores the phenomenon of in-home pet euthanasia, through the intersection of two disciplinary perspectives: bioethics and photojournalism. The world of pet euthanasia, as an academic point of interest, is largely unexplored. Only a handful of academic articles, scattered through literature of the past four decades, have focused on the death of companion animals, and nearly always from the angle of the psychology of pet loss and bereavement. Yet as a cultural phenomenon, in-home euthanasia of pets is surprisingly common and becoming more so each year. The experience of ushering a companion animal through the final moments of life—of orchestrating and managing the death of a best friend—is profoundly moving and often deeply traumatizing for pet owners yet remains largely unseen by the public or by scholars. Capturing these moments on film has the potential to tell us a great deal about people, animals, and death.
KeywordsPets Grief Euthanasia Animal behavior Companion animals
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