Unwanted shelter animals are often euthanized (from the Greek, means good death) by means of a gas chamber (which means a horrible death). Depending on the size of the chamber, as many as 20 animals may be placed in an airless metal container where they are piled one upon another. The lid is closed and carbon monoxide (CO) is pumped into the chamber until all the animals die, which can take upwards of 30 minutes. The animals are in a panic and show fear and possibly aggression toward others in the crowded environment. Some come out of the chamber alive only to be placed in with another group. Such barbarism does not meet the criteria of euthanasia.
So, if euthanasia by gas chamber is so abhorrent, why is it still the method of choice for many animal shelters across the country? Convenience is often cited as one reason. A shelter can euthanize more animals at one time than it can inject each individual animal with a euthanizing agent. Cost is another, though in reality the cost to operate a gas chamber is approximately $5 an animal and for euthanasia by injection $2.30 an animal. Finally, often lack of training and lack of access to controlled substances and/or the personnel authorized by the Drug Enforcement Administration to administer them keeps a shelter from using the humane choice of hundreds of national, state, and local protection agencies—euthanasia by injection.
It is time to replace abhorrent methods of euthanasia with humane methods. Because when you think about it…the words “gas chamber” and “euthanasia” do not belong in the same sentence.