In the first part of this article we consider the emotional burden that comes with killing a laboratory animal. We go on to raise questions about the value of the animal and its future perspectives. In the central part of this article we describe the different possibilities for the surviving laboratory animal once the experiment is completed. One of the moral dilemmas we treat in depth is the choice between the ‘death penalty’ and ‘lifelong encagement’. We conclude by offering some practical recommendations. Knowledge that an animal may survive an experiment has to be taken into consideration by any Animal Ethics Committee. In the process of approving the experiment, the perspectives of the animal after the experiment should be taken into account. Postponing this decision until it will be clear that there is no purpose any more for the animal is not in anyone's interest and certainly not in the interest of the animal. Humanely killing1 an animal in such a situation may be an act of mercy and not just a cheap way of solving a problem.
Recommended CitationKort, Will, The Death Penalty or Lifelong Encagement: Moral dilemmas about animals-without-further-destination, Animal Issues, 3(2), 1999.