This has been a pretty sore subject for me over the years. As long as I can remember... scratch that -- since before I can remember -- I've hated animal death in film. My mother used to tell me the story about how well before I knew what death was, I sat in my high chair screaming when some dude kicked Benji's girlfriend and it just looked like she had passed away. But that was only the first step -- Bambi, Charlotte's Web, The Lion King, Old Yeller ... those required childhood films are all depressing (let alone more adult films like the recent I Am Legend, or that pointless horse scene in The Ring).
I'm not about to say that there should be a ban on it. That would be silly. Death is a part of life, whether human or animal, and whether the films are for child or adult eyes. But, at the very least, can it be balanced with good animal fare that doesn't rip out the tears? A possible aspect rather than a rampant theme? It took me years to watch Milo and Otis because I was sure that one of them would bite the dust. That's just the way things go, and there doesn't seem to be much stopping it. You might have heard the recent buzz about another upcoming animal-themed movie that ends in death -- the trend is continuing.
Do we just love to depress ourselves? Is this an insidious and sneaky plan from adult parents who are attempting to dissuade their kids from wanting pets? Is this a marketing scheme from Kleenex? I don't know. I'm just tired of expecting the worst!