Bioethics Blogs

Horse Euthanasia: Equine End-of-Life Dispute Parallels Human Conflicts

Dan Buck Soules used to own Knotty.  But he eventually sold Knotty with the arrangement that he could buy it back.  

But in 2013, Lisa Bosse, the buyer advised Soules that Knotty was sick. Knotty had trouble getting up and would need to be put down. 

Soules disagreed vehemently. Through his research, he determined that Knotty probably has Lyme disease. It’s fairly common in horses, and it’s treatable.  So, Soules sued to regain ownership.  Both parties claimed to act in Knotty’s best interests.  The parties eventually agreed to treat Knotty for Lyme disease and vitamin deficiency.  

But Knotty’s health continued to decline. He developed a new condition that required the removal of an eye. A veterinarian temporarily overseeing Knotty’s treatment recommended that he be euthanized after concluding he wouldn’t be able to tolerate the anesthesia necessary for the surgery.  In January 2014, a trial court revoked an earlier injunction prohibiting euthanasia, after a neutral veterinarian agreed to by both parties concluded that Knotty was at risk of a “catastrophic fall.”

The dispute over Knotty continued and was finally heard this week by the Maine Supreme Judicial Court.  

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.