We Need to Talk About Behavioral Euthanasia

Trish McMillian joins Nikki, Regina, and Bernice to discuss the controversial, sometimes divisive, and always emotional topic of behavioral euthanasia.

UPDATE JUNE 12, 2019:

While we received an overwhelmingly positive response to this podcast, we also received criticism from other individuals in animal welfare and we take their concerns seriously.

We wanted to address these criticisms and concerns directly. Stacey Coleman has added a preamble and an outro to the episode. In addition, we’ve added in clarification and explanation for sections that some people found upsetting.

Please join us on Thursday, June 13 at 6pm for a Facebook Live discussion. We welcome your feedback.

We encourage everyone to listen to the episode again and hear our new commentary that is sprinkled throughout the episode.

For everyone’s convenience, here is Stacey’s opening commentary:

“We are revisiting our recent behavioral euthanasia podcast.  The response the discussion has been positive as many of us have had a personal experience with behavioral euthanasia that impacted us or maybe even still haunts us.

I have an experience that haunts me and I made sure I was the first to comment on the podcast to make sure everybody knows that nobody is above this discussion, not even the executive director of a place like Animal Farm Foundation.

We have, however, heard from a few people for whom we have a tremendous amount of respect and long-standing relationships that heard the podcast differently than we intended. That is on us, not on them, because, when all is said and done, what we intended to accomplish matters precious little if what we thought we said is not what people heard.  That is why we are revisiting the podcast. This time I am weighing in to, listening to the podcast through the ears of the feedback I have gotten from our friends who said we should have done better.

We will also be following up this reworked version with a Facebook live discussion tomorrow, Thursday, June 13, at 6pm. We are not sure yet who will be joining us as guests and regardless of who joins us, we will facilitate robust discussion on a difficult topic.

NOBODY gets to seize the moral high ground on how we are supposed to feel about behavioral euthanasia. Just as dogs are, people are individuals, too.

Stacey’s wrap up at the end of the podcast is here:

“Stacey here. Thanks for listening to our reworked podcast. We know it’s a long podcast, but one of the things we’ve always said internally is that sometimes things are bigger than a soundbite, so you need to take as long as you need to to talk about it

And we’re thankful that there is a place like Losing Lulu. And we’re thankful that Trish has shared her stories and experiences with us. And we’re tremendously grateful that so many people who have personally been impacted by behavioral euthanasia have found some comfort in this discussion.

Now, as the facilitator of this discussion, we didn’t get everything right. If you listen to the podcast, you hear us own up to some of our things. But we’re also not going to shy away from the topic. We’re not done talking about it. As an industry, we need to find common ground to talk about euthanasia, particularly behavioral euthanasia. Until we do, there will be opportunists who will create a false dichotomy by implying there are two different sides and playing them against each other. And you can call us Pollyanna if you want to, but we genuinely believe and we know from our experiences traveling the country and working with shelters… talking with dog owners, adopting out dogs, working in our special programs, that people don’t want to kill dogs.

Until we as an industry, and as an industry, I mean sheltering and animal advocacy – and again those are two different groups but they all get plopped together in the work that we do, until we find some common ground on this and sort out this vitriol when we start talking about behavioral euthanasia, we will forever be victimized, and we deserve to be, by the opportunists who try to pit us against each other

I hope you will join us in our Facebook live discussion. There’s more coming down the pike. I’m sure you will hear from the detractors, but that’s okay, we’re not going to be deterred.”


Trish McMillian is a certified professional dog trainer (through CCPDT),  certified dog behavior consultant and associate certified cat behavior consultant (through IAABC) who holds a Master’s degree in Animal Behavior from the University of Exeter in England.  She specializes in training and behavior modification work using positive reinforcement with dogs, cats, and horses. You can read more about her here.

If you have had to euthanize a dog for behavior reasons and are interested in joining the group Trish mentions, you can find Losing Lulu here.

Want to be on our podcast to talk about the intersection of animal welfare and social justice? Want to yell at us for our opinions? Email us!


You can access a transcript of the podcast via closed-captions on YouTube.

The Individual Animal is available on iTunesStitcherSpotifyGoogle Play, and wherever you listen to podcasts.

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