Elimination of the Gas Chamber in Animal Shelters The push for the elimination of the Gas Chamber to euthanasia animals in the Licking County Animal Control Shelter has been recently fueled by protestors that want the gas chamber shut down. The animal rights group together with the members of the Licking County Political Action committee gathered with the purpose of abolishing the use of the gas chamber and reforming the county animal shelter.
Although the Euthanasia by Injection is the shelters primary method of putting an animal to death, they are still using the gas chamber, in certain cases, to euthanasia animals. Euthanasia by the gas chamber is a cruel, dated and should not be tolerated. A lethal injection is a faster more humane way to put an animal to death. There are several methods to put an animal to death and all are based on various social, psychological and physical circumstances.
The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) considers sodium pentobarbital and CO acceptable methods of euthanasia for dogs and cats in animals in shelters. However, although the AVMA considers CO as an acceptable method of euthanasia, they strongly support EBI as the preferred method of euthanasia. EBI is also supported by the National Animal Control Association (NACA), the Association of Shelter Veterinarians (AOSV), and The America Humane Association (AHA) of the United States. According to Doug Fakkemas article in the Euthanasia by Injection (EBI) Myth vs. Fact Sheet, he states that, “the gas chamber can take up to 25 to 30 minutes to end an animals life; whereas EBI causes loss of consciousness within 3 to 5 seconds and clinical death within 2 to 5 minutes” (Fakkema, n.
d.). Euthanasia by these archaic gas chambers should not be allowed. Although animal euthanasia is an act of painlessly putting an animal to death, the Licking County Animal Shelters gas chamber does not apply to this rule. The animals are subjected to a painful death thus disobeying the rule of euthanasia. This has led to numerous complaints by the residents and the county political action committee. On April 24, 2010, an article in the Newark Advocate reported that about 100 protestors gathered to protest the use of the gas chamber outside the Licking County Animal Shelter. According to the article, they have been protesting the gas chamber for about twelve years (Sudar, 2010). The animal rights group together with the members of the Licking County Political Action committee wants the gas chamber abolished. On April 28, 2010, another article appeared in the Newark Advocate in which the protestors lobbied the Licking County Commissioners to remove and disassemble the gas chamber. According to Ronnie Kidd, one of the local organizers said, “Weve heard a lot of promises, but the actions are not meeting the words. We will go on until the change happens. We are not going away until the problem goes away” (Hollon, 2010). The Licking county citizens want all shelter animals euthanized by EBI. Jon Luzio, Director of the Licking County Animal Control Shelter said that, despite some reports, he wanted to ensure the residents of Licking County that the pets that were euthanasia via the gas chamber they passed quickly and humanly. He also noted that the animal shelter requires more reforms and a plan for the creation of an advisory council are being considered. The council will consist of local professionals who will make recommendations about the shelter. Mr.Luzio went on to say that the euthanasia rates are the lowest in the state of Ohio and that the adoptable dogs are kept for up to 30 days longer than required by law. He stated that??Even though our shelter is transitioning to euthanasia by injection, we are still using carbon monoxide for aggressive animals?? (personal communication, 17 Mar 2010). Mr. Luzio also provided statistics that show the euthanasia rates are on the decline. For example, below is a chart provided and compiled by the Licking County Animal Control Shelter that confirms the decrease in the euthanasia rates, in Licking County. As one can see, the euthanasia rate has declined, but the fact still remains that the shelter is still using the gas chamber to euthanasia animals. Although the county commissioner and the director of the Licking County Animal Control Shelter told the advocate that the gas chambers are not in use, unless an animal is aggressive, the groups through its commissioners are pushing towards the elimination of the gas chambers altogether. There is no reason to continue using the gas chamber for aggressive animals. According to an article in Animal News by Doug Fakkema, a trainer and consultant for the AHA stated, “I can euthanize a dangerous dog in his or her kennel by feeding sodium pentobarbital, no handling necessary” (Clifton, 2006). These animals can be sedated and then injected instead of dragging them chaotically into a gas chamber. The article goes on to explain that there are several control methods available, so the shelter workers do not have to handle the aggressive animals. These restraints include restraint poles, squeeze gates, and syringe poles. Shelter workers can then sedate the animal with a dose of pre-euthanasia drugs. If for some reason shelters do not have restraints, the shelter workers can mix the powder form of sodium pentobarbital in a can of dog food; this will make the animal unconscious. Once the dog is unconscious, a lethal dose of the drug can be administered. This is the most humane method of euthanasia of animals. In addition to the pain and suffering that the animals experience in the gas chamber, carbon monoxide can also cause health risks for the shelter workers. According to an article from the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2006,??Researchers discovered a link between severe carbon monoxide poisoning and death years later from heart disease?? (Henry, 2006). Carbon monoxide is extremely hard to detect because it is colorless, tasteless, and odorless. Carbon dioxide can cause asphyxiation, kidney damage, or induced coma and heart disease if released in confined areas. For example, in 2009, a gas build-up in a North Carolina shelter caused the door to explode, and an animal control officer was taken to the emergency room. Even, though there are no reported incidents like this in the Licking County Animal Shelter, there is still the possibility of exposure and injury based on the documented reports Furthermore, EBI also provides shelter workers the dignity they deserve when faced with the difficult job of euthanizing pets. Most shelter workers have an incredible stressful and emotional job. They have to do what they do because of societys lack of responsibility for their pets. Many workers get into the line of work because they truly care about animals and only want to provide comfort for the animals in their final moments of life. EBI offers this comfort. In contrast, the gas chamber is both cruel and upsetting to the physical and emotional well being of humans and animals. Many supporters argued that the gas chamber is more cost effective than lethal injection. However, a 2009 study by the AHA shows EBI is less costly than gas to communities. The AHA recently commissioned Doug Fakkema, to perform a study on the costs associated between EBI and gas. Fakkema stated that , “he used data from an animal shelter organization in North Carolina, and it was based on the number of dogs and cats euthanized in 2007 which was 5,427. The study shows that the cost to use carbon monoxide gas is $4.98 per animal. The cost to use carbon monoxide poisoning without a tranquilizer is $4.66 per animal. The cost to use EBI, however, was only $2.29 per animal” (Fakkema, 2009.). These cost figures from North Carolina are comparable to other states and show that euthanasia by EBI is more cost effective than gas. Another issue with the gas chamber is that the animals do not always die, as documented by Stray Rescue founder Randy Grim. He tells of the story about a dog, which he named Quentin, who survived a gas chamber at the animal shelter in the city of St. Louis, Missouri. The animal control officer opened the door to the gas chamber and saw the dog standing on the other dogs, and she immediately called Randy Grim, who rescues dogs and tries to place them in new homes. She stated, “I did not have the heart to gas him again” (Grim, 2005). Therefore, Randy Grim?™s lobbying efforts and his ability to raise money convinced the St. Louis Shelter to shut down the gas chamber for good. In another article, an incident happened in North Carolina at the Davies County Animal Shelter in April 2005 in which another puppy survived the gas chamber and was later found at the dump (Gunning, 2005). These incidents helped persuade many states to pass laws to prevent carbon dioxide and monoxide euthanasia of shelter animals. For example, nine states including Oregon, Wyoming, Delaware, Virginia, Tennessee, Rhode Island, New York, New Mexico and Illinois have banned the use of the gas chamber. The use of the gas chamber needs to be abolished; this is a cruel and inhumane way to put an animal to death. A lethal injection is more humane, less expensive, and less time consuming than the use of the gas chamber. The continued use of the gas chamber has led to numerous complaints by the residents and the county political action committee. However, strict follow up of the issue needs to continue through the local government until all shelter animals are euthanized by lethal injection.
References Clifton, M. (2006, October). Could carbon monoxide gas chambers make a comeback Retrieved May 18, 2010, from Amimal People: http://www.animalpeoplenews.org./ 06/10/carbongaschamber106.html Fakkema, D (n.d.) Euthanasia by Injection (EBI) Myth vs. Fact Sheet. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://michiganpetfund.org/userfiles/file/american%20Humane%20M1%20EBI%20myth -fact%20sheet.pdf Fakkema, D. (2009, January). EBI cost analysis matrix 2009. Retrieved May 17, 2010, from from American Humane Association: http://www.americanhumane. .org/assets/docs/advocy/ADV-co-ebi-cost-analsis09.pdf. Grim, R. (2005). Miracle dog: how quentin survived the gas chamber to speak for animals on dealth row. St. Louis, Missouri, United States: Alpine. Gunning, M. (2005). Puppy survives euthansia attempt, trip to the dump. Retrieved May 19, 2010, from http://www.freewebs.com/animalshelternews/index.htm. Henry, T. D. (2006). Heart injury due to carbon monoxide poisoning increases long term risk of death. Journal of the American Medical Association , 295, 398-402. Hollon, A. (2010, April 28). Protesters step up fight against gas chamber at animal shelter. Retrieved May 18, 2010, from Newark Advocate: http://www.animalconcerns.org/ external.htmlwww=http%3A//www.newarkadvocate.com/article/20100414/updates01/1 00414026/1002NEWS01&item201004150650480.543111 Sudar, A. (2010, April 18). Animal shelter protest draws about 100. Retrieved May 18, 2010, from Newark Advocate: http://www.newarkadvocate.com/fdcp/1272147611100