killing of animals is a controversial issue. Mercy killing as a means to end severe suffering and agony has an exceptional and unquestioned position. Killing as an act of mercy not only seems to represent animal interests but also makes the act of killing a moral requirement. Against this background, veterinarians should be especially concerned with the optimization and medical care in the emergency killing of moribund farm animals in the agricultural industry. However, satisfying the technical and medical requirements of emergency killing entails certain contradictions. The present article attempts to illuminate the tensions in the contradiction that killing of animals is declared an indispensable act of mercy and compassion. The argument will be made on various levels. First, the discussion will focus on the imperative of ending animal life for the sake of avoiding suffering and pain in the context of veterinary medicine. Not only is veterinary medicine required to care for the functionality of an animal body, it is also responsible for a moral and humane treatment. Pain is the source of this doubly binding requirement that challenges veterinarians in practice. Pain is the term that oscillates between subjective sensation and subjective experience, which becomes objectified and is assessed from the outside. It is morally relevant to remark that the subjective sensation of pain and the objective assessment of pain are not always congruent. The antagonism between subjective experience and standardized assessment is reflected in the third section of the article, which draws attention to the relation between emergency killing and killing as an act of mercy. Emergency killing could be understood as an act of mercy by virtue of caring about one individual life. On the other hand, emergency killing is an expression of calculated and optimized utilization and economization of animal life in the context of agricultural production. Emergency killing can thus be understood as the response to moral requirements that enable veterinarians to fulfil the demands of responsible and protective medical treatment, while at the same time contradicting the medical and moral self-conception.