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Is it a Sin to Kill a Dog?

Is it a Sin to Kill a Dog?

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Dogs have deservedly earned their status as man’s best friend for serving us in so many ways.

With a loyalty that few humans can match, dogs are selfless creatures who never ask for anything back.

So, why would anyone want to kill them?

Is this how we reward a friend if indeed they are man’s best friend?

 In some cultures, dogs even end up on the menu as a delicacy.

Should the diners feel guilty of betrayal or should they go ahead and enjoy their canine cuisine with no regrets?

 Is it a moral outrage to God for us to kill dogs?

Let’s investigate…

Man’s Assigned Authority over Animals in the Bible

When God finished creating animals on day 6, his next step was to create man, “So that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground,” (Gen 1:26-30).

This vast authority over the animal kingdom gave humans the power of life and death over animals.

 Therefore, the fate of animals lies in our hands in a very literal sense.

 However, does this give a blank check to kill animals wantonly?

The book of Proverbs objects, saying in 12:10; “Whoever is righteous has regard for the life of his beast, but the mercy of the wicked is cruel.” 

Nonetheless, the bible lays out some circumstances where the killing of animals (including dogs) can be justified. 

Killing a Dog to Avenge for Loss of Human Life

Dog Breeds Most Likely To Bite

To humans, God says according to Genesis 9:5: “And for your lifeblood, I will surely demand an accounting. I will demand an accounting from every animal. And from each human being, too, I will demand an accounting for the life of another human being.” 

This verse shows that the killing of a person either by another person or an animal was to be avenged by killing the offender.

The avengers are humans doing the killing on God’s behalf as stated in Gen 9:6: “Whoever sheds human blood, by humans shall their blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made mankind.”

Therefore, it is justifiable to kill dogs to avenge the loss of human life they cause.

Killing for Self Protection

Even though killing people was punishable by death, killers could be legally protected in some cases e.g. if the killing was unintentional or there was no malice aforethought.

This is applicable in the case of self-defense. And this was the reason why so-called cities of refuge were established in Old Testament Israel where killers could seek refuge and be protected from avengers while awaiting trial.

If killers could have legal protection for taking human life, why not also for taking animal life?

After all, the value of human life exceeds that of animals.

Such protection would apply in a case of self-defense against dogs that have attacked you or have threatened your life (e.g. rabid stray dogs that pose a public threat).

You may also want to check: My Neighbor Killed My Dog-What Can I Do?

Killing a Dog for Sacrifice

The killing of animals for sacrifice was permitted but only those that God had declared clean.

Since dogs are excluded from this group, killing them for sacrifice in the Jewish worship system would be sinful. 

God’s prescribed choice of sacrifice was very strict allowing for no deviations.

The slightest breach resulted in grave consequences. This is seen in all the other prescriptions built around the sacrifice.

For example:

  • The sacrifice was supposed to be of a particular type (e.g. spotless lamb, or an animal with no lameness).
  • The sacrifice was to be presented at a specific place (the temple of Jerusalem). An attempt by King Jeroboam to switch this to a rival location in Bethel after the breakup of Israel into two kingdoms (Israel and Judah) resulted in God’s curse and rejection. (1 Kings 14:10-11)
  • The sacrifice rituals (including burning incense) were to be performed and presided over by a priest from a specific tribe (Levites). An illicit attempt by King Uzziah who was a non-Levite (he was of the tribe of Judah) to preside as a priest by burning incense resulted in God striking him with leprosy. 

This makes it a sin to substitute anything different from what God has placed as his sacrifice including dogs for clean animals. 

Killing a Dog for Food 

Any animal that was declared unclean for sacrifice was automatically unclean and unfit for food as well.

Therefore, killing dogs for food cannot be justified as they are not permitted in the human diet. 

However, lots of wild animals are listed among animals that are permitted for food.

For example, King Solomon’s table included game food such as gazelles, venison, and roebucks as we read in Kings 4:23. 

Caring for Animals Reflects God’s Character

God shows compassion for animals, so a truly godly person should also have compassion for animals.

 One who has little value for human life is likely to also show little value for animal life.

So, we can predict a person’s homicidal tendencies by how he treats animals. 

Many serial and cold-blooded killers started by showing cruelty to animals including dogs. 

In the book of Jonah 4:11, we see evidence of God’s compassion for animals which we can also emulate in our treatment of dogs:

“And should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people…—and also many animals?”

You may also want to check:

Does God Love Dogs?

Is It A Sin To Own A Dog?

Is Dog Euthanasia a Sin?

Witnessing your beloved dog suffering a terminal condition can be unbearable.

It’s natural to want to quickly end your dog’s pain by killing them. 

However, euthanasia is disallowed in the bible, especially when it comes to human euthanasia.

A good example is when King Saul was mortally wounded at the battle and asked his armor-bearer to kill him to hasten his death.

His armor-bearer refused. However, later an Amalekite delivered the news to David of Saul’s death and claimed to have killed Saul, holding Saul’s crown and bracelet as proof.

(Unknown to David, he was lying as Saul died by suicide).

The Amalekite expected a reward from David since he was Saul’s enemy.

Instead, David ordered his execution despite the Amalekite saying “I stood over him and killed him because I knew that after he had fallen he could not survive.” (2 Samuel 1:10) 

Although the Bible does not address the issue of animal euthanasia, “putting pets to sleep” seems in harmony with biblical values for treating your dog with mercy and dignity. 

Caring for a terminally sick dog also consumes resources that are better used elsewhere such as in saving human lives which has a higher godly obligation.

You may also want to check: Did My Dog Know He Was Being Put to Sleep?

Parting Thoughts

Killing a dog might seem a trivial affair for most people.

But according to the Bible, God attaches value to animal life, including dogs.

 Though not so sacred as human life, ending a dog’s life for no good reason is something that could earn you the dubious status of being a sinner.

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