Dangerous dogs - Why 'destroyed'?

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?

Can someone shed some light on this?

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.

I’ve just realised the link I’ve given actually used the phrase “the dog was shot”, but later states that the dog was destroyed.

If you google “dangerous dog” and “destroyed”, you’ll find over fourty-four thousand pages, though, so I’m pretty sure it’s a widely used-phrase.

Johnny L.A., you’re probably right, but it just seems like an over-the top word to me. That said, I can’t really think of a replacement.

You kill an animal. You “destroy” a thing. I suspect “destroyed” helps people to think of the animal as a thing, thus helping to mitigate any residual sadness or guilt.

Good point.

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.

I suspect the term may come from the Dangerous Dogs Act?

Well, yeah. Didn’t you ever read/see Stephen King’s Pet Sematary? :stuck_out_tongue:

I’ve also heard the term “Put Down” or “Taken Down”. Nice words for “Killing”.
Haven’t I read somewhere that somebody left their dog (or cat) a fortune? Don’t know how legal it was, seems improbable.

It can be done, just not directly: Pet trusts.

It’s certainly the term used throughout the text of the 1991 Act. But it was also the term used in the less remembered 1989 Act and indeed all the way back in the 1871 Dogs Act.

As for why the phrase is currently used, I suspect that it’s long since become a journalistic cliche more than anything else.

destroy is also a legalistic term for killing a pre-sentient human. If you kill an unborn baby in a criminal way you may be charged with fetal destruction.

Something to do with absence of malice?

The final sentence in this update simple says the dog was shot dead by a police marksman.

BBC News

I did see and address this in post #3. Other phrases may be used, but destroyed crops up more often, and it’s the choice of word that I think makes it more than a coincidence.