On Dec. 8, 2014, North Carolina Animal Welfare Director, Patricia Norris issued a directive for animal shelters in Randolph County to abandon the use of gas chambers to euthanize animals at the county animal shelters. Letters were sent out that day and the county Public Health Director, MiMi Cooper, immediately stopped the practice.
That thrilled county residents, who had been protesting the outmoded practice for years, and this past August, held a rally outside the Historic County Courthouse to push for the change at the Randolph County Animal Shelter. At that time, the Commissioners listened to their comments, but took no action.
It’s been a long time in coming, but effective Dec. 9, 2014, the combination of gas and lethal injection used to euthanize the thousands of unwanted dogs and cats that enter the County shelter each year is outlawed.
The Courier-Tribune is reporting that other counties that still use gas chambers in their animal shelters include Wilkes, Union, Granville and Davidson counties. The directive gives counties until Feb. 15, 2015, to comply or Jan. 7, 2015, to provide adequate reason why compliance would not be feasible. The chambers themselves will not be removed, but the cylinders that hold the lethal gas will be picked up from local shelters on Dec. 11, 2014.
American Veterinary Medicine Association guidelines were updated in 2013 and state that euthanasia by lethal injection is the preferred method, and that
“gas chambers are not recommended for routine euthanasia of cats and dogs in shelters and animal control operations; alternate methods with fewer conditions and disadvantages are recommended for companion animals where feasible.”
Director Norris’s decision was based on that change. Though residents of NC and most humane-minded US residents hope that all counties would stop the gassing practice, the AMVA explains that there are still shelters and animal control operations without the personnel authorized by the Drug Enforcement Administration to properly administer controlled substances.
According to an American Humane Association study, the cost to use carbon monoxide poisoning is $4.98 per animal. The cost to use lethal injection, is only $2.29 per animal. If you live in a state that still uses gas shelter to kill unwanted animals, they suggest politely ask the shelter director and your county commissioners to transition to injection. Then, start a petition to send to your county commissioners, calling for your local shelter to transition out of gas chambers and involve the local media to drum up additional community support for a transition. Encourage online friends and family to get involved. The power of the internet is unlimited.
The numbers of animals euthanized every year are horrific: 3 to 4 million animals lose their lives in shelters every year, due in most part to the catastrophe of lack of low cost, available spay/neuter, illegal breeding on a massive scale etc. You can join together to make the last moments for shelter animals more humane.
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