When you think about it…even one is too many.

A 2011 study revealed that many more companion animals were euthanized in shelters than the public believed.

A 2011 study revealed that many more companion animals were euthanized in shelters than the public believed.

PetSmart Charities commissioned a study in 2011 to look at attitudes regarding pet adoption and spay/neuter. One of the great misconceptions the research identified is how many cats and dogs the public believes are euthanized in animal shelters across the country versus how many actually are. In a similar study in 2009, the public estimated 1.5 million companion animals are euthanized yearly; in 2011, the number dropped to 1.2 million. Unfortunately, the estimated number of companion animals euthanized yearly is 4 million. According to the study, 88 percent of those taking part underestimated the number.

Adopting from shelters and spaying/neutering companion animals will help reduce the number of healthy, adoptable animals killed in shelters every year in this country. But, when you think about it…even one death is too many; 4 million is an atrocity.

When you think about it…euthanasia should be for the right reasons, right?

Sometimes companion animals are euthanized for the wrong reasons.

Sometimes companion animals are euthanized for the wrong reasons.

By law, pets are property. However, few of us who dote on our companion animals look at them that way. We consider them part of our family. But what happens when that family member becomes ill and the cost to restore his or her health is out of reach of our budget? What happens when we must move and our family member is not welcome to live with us? How do we handle our family member when he or she becomes old, incontinent, hard of hearing, blind, yet is not sick or in pain or discomfort?

We’d all like to think we’d do the right thing. We’d come up with the money; we’d change our plans to move to include our companion, and we’d get doggie diapers if needed. And some of us will. But some of us won’t. Some of us will refuse to spend the money necessary to even diagnose our companion’s problem, let alone fix it. Some of us will try to find a new home for our companion, or take the animal to the local shelter and let them deal with our family member when we don’t want to take him or her with us. Still others will take their family member to the veterinarian and ask that he or she euthanize their companion.

What sort of moral dilemma do we put our veterinarians in when we ask them to kill an animal for our convenience? Euthanasia, often referred to as the “good death,” is hardly good if the animal can still enjoy life. What right do we have to tell our veterinarians to kill the very beings they went into veterinary practice to heal? What kind of ethical issues do we raise when we decide to ditch our responsibilities to our companions? When you think about it…euthanasia should be for the right reasons, right?

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When you think about it…the words “gas chamber” and “euthanasia” do not belong in the same sentence.

Many animal shelters still consider the use of gas chambers a humane form of euthanasia.

Many animal shelters still consider the use of gas chambers a humane form of euthanasia.

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.

Humane Death for Shelter Animals

PawsUp

The use of gas chambers in Texas animal shelters has just recently been banned.

The use of gas chambers in Texas animal shelters has recently been banned.

Paws Up!
To Texas for banning the use of gas chambers to euthanize shelter animals.

According to a news article, “Texas has joined 19 other states in banning the use of gas chambers to kill unwanted shelter dogs, cats, puppies and kittens.”

Euthanasia by injection is the recommended method, according to groups including the Texas Animal Control Association, the Association of Shelter Veterinarians, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and various veterinary and animal control associations.”

There is a bill in the US House of Representatives, HR 208, that opposes the use of gas chambers to euthanize shelter animals and supports laws that require the use of euthanasia by injection instead. Contact your senators and representatives and have them support HR 208.

Gas chambers should be banned in all states as a means of euthanizing shelter animals.

Take Action: Residents of Texas, thank your governor for signing into law a bill that bans the use of gas chambers to euthanize shelter animals in your state. Residents of other states, check to see if your state still allows the use of gas chambers as a means to euthanize shelter animals. If it does, please contact your legislators and urge them to introduce legislation banning the practice.

The Honorable Rick Perry
Governor
P.O. Box 12428
Austin, Texas 78711-2428
Tele. No.: 512-463-2000

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Push for the Ban of Gas Chambers in Texas and Hawaii

Thousands of animals are inhumanely euthanized each year by use of gas chambers.

Thousands of animals are inhumanely euthanized each year by use of gas chambers.

While no one wants to see companion animals euthanized, we are all aware that shelters across this nation engage in euthanizing not only sick, disabled, and dangerous animals, but also healthy, adoptable ones. As the last act of compassion for all these lives, we should be as gentle and caring as possible. Euthanasia by sodium pentobarbital or a derivative should be the sole means of euthanizing shelter animals. However, some states still use gas chambers to euthanize animals.

Sometimes a dozen or more animals are placed in a gas chamber. Gassing often can take 30 minutes or more during which time the animals are all terrified and some panic to the point of attacking the other animals in the chamber. This is no way to euthanize an animal who, through no fault of his or her own, became a casualty of the pet overpopulation problem in this country.

Two states, Hawaii and Texas, have legislation pending, HCR 34 and SB 360 , respectively, that would require the use of sodium pentobarbital or a derivative and prohibit the use of compression or gas chambers or other means that do not immediately euthanize the animal.

Hawaii and Texas residents, contact your legislators and urge them to support legislation that will save many animals from terrible suffering. Residents of other states where gas chambers are used, contact your legislators and urge them to support humane euthanasia at animal shelters.

Dying with Dignity

No animal should die in a gas chamber.

Congressman Jim Moran of Virginia, co-chair of the Congressional Animal Protection Caucus, introduced House Resolution 736, which expresses opposition to the use of gas chambers as a way to euthanize shelter animals and supports states to enact laws to replace gas chambers with euthanasia by injection.

With 3 to 4 million cats and dogs being euthanized in animal shelters today, we need to ensure those deaths are humane. Gassing often can take 30 minutes or more during which time the animal is confined in a large chamber often with many other animals all terrified and some panicking to the point of attacking the other animals in the chamber. This is no way to euthanize an animal who, through no fault of his or her own, became expendable.

Please contact your representative and express your support of House Resolution 736.

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Shelter Animals Deserve Better

While no one wants to see companion animals euthanized, we are all aware that shelters across this nation engage in euthanizing not only sick, disabled, and dangerous animals but also healthy, adoptable ones. As the last act of compassion for all these lives, we should be as gentle and caring as possible. Euthanasia by sodium pentobarbital or a derivative should be the sole means of euthanizing shelter animals.

Two states, Pennsylvania and South Carolina, have legislation pending that would change their laws to require the use of sodium pentobarbital or a derivative rather than compression or gas chambers or other means that do not immediately euthanize the animal.

Pennsylvania and South Carolina residents, contact your legislators and urge them to support legislation that will save many animals from terrible suffering.

Pennsylvania S 1329 – referred to Committee on Agriculture and Rural Affairs

The Honorable Elder A. Vogel, Jr.
Chair, Agriculture and Rural Affairs
Senate Box 203047
Harrisburg, PA 17120-3047
Tele. No.: 717-787-3076

The Honorable Michael L. Waugh
Vice Chair, Agriculture and Rural Affairs
Senate Box 203028
Harrisburg, PA 17120-3028
Tele. No.: 717-787-3817

South Carolina H 3114 – referred to Committee on Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs

The Honorable Nelson L. Hardwick
Chairman
Committee on Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs
411 Blatt Building
Columbia, South Carolina 29201
Tele. No.: 803-734-3022

The Honorable David R. Hoitt
First Vice Chair
Committee on Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs
418B Blatt Building
Columbia, South Carolina 29201
Tele. No.: 803-734-3323

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