After reading the tragic news story today about a fatal pit bull attack, I’ve been reminded of something I’ve wondered about these stories.
Whenever a dangerous dog is killed by the police (in this country, at least), the term used is that the dog was destroyed.
Seems like a funny term to use to me, it sounds like the dog’s had a silver stake driven through it’s heart under a special ritual, for fear that its soul will rise and maul again. Or just that the dog’s been vapourised by a canicidal robot. Or something more fancy than ‘slotted by a police marksman’…not that I think that’s a phrase that should be used in the news instead.
Is it just a way to avoid using ‘killed’, which could get a reaction from animal rights activists? Or is it because once a dog’s deemed dangerous, it’s no longer a life, just a dangerous thing (eg; a firearm), which must be destroyed for safety reasons?
My WAG: People in the West seem to have a problem with death. Animals aren’t ‘killed’ or even ‘euthanised’; they’re ‘put to sleep’. Uncle Waldo didn’t ‘die’; he ‘passed away’. We don’t have ‘graveyards’; we have ‘cemeteries’. So I think it may be that ‘destroyed’ A) is not as offensive as ‘killed’, and B) it implies the complete removal of Something Bad.
From a legal perspective, the animal is a piece of property, a “thing.” You can’t leave stuff in your will to the dog; and if something happens to your dog, you’re very limited in the amount of damages you can claim, because the dog is just a piece of property.
It may be that the police coined the phrase. In my experience, police tend to be oddly precise in their use of language at times.