Dr. Michael R. Moyer is the owner of Bridgewater Veterinary Hospital, Inc. in Bensalem, Pennsylvania. He is the former Director of the Shelter Animal Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine and President of the American Animal Hospital Association. Here’s what he has to say about the gas chamber:
There is no progressive sheltering agency of any scope or stature willing to
philosophically embrace CO systems for euthanasia of any dog or cat. Humane sheltering is deliberately, inexorably, and philosophically moving away from mass killing as an acceptable method of dog and cat population control. That there are technical features of certain systems that distinguish it from other such systems should not be the point of discussion. Efforts focusing on efficient killing strategies utterly fail to address the key social and resource causes of pet abandonment and failure to successfully rehome them.
Even if one were to reject the above premise, the use of the gas chamber cannot be justified. It is sickening to watch dogs and cats die in these machines. Their last act of human contact is to be sealed in a box stale with the odors of fear and death from the last “batch.” Frightened by the escaping gas sound, they move anxiously in their chamber—some frantic, others frozen by their fear and trembling. Technical papers describe “vocalizations” to make it sound more clinical and academic, but even one unfamiliar with dogs and cats would know to identify it as fear and stress—barking, crying, whining, howling. As the hissing of gas flooding the box continues, animals become disorientated, fall, collapse; but instead of a quiet, limp faint towards stillness, there is thrashing of hyper-excitable muscles twitching in the poisoned air, convulsions, the animals still “vocalizing,” animals in phases of these states of fear and anxiety . Some of the animals urinate and some defecate in mortis extremis, adding disgust to the disgrace they’ve been fated to suffer.
It takes several minutes to finish the cycle and to purge the poison from the box, the dead bodies and the excreta must wait for the machine to be safe before it can be opened, the now silent and limp bodies to be removed. The machine is perfunctorily cleaned, and made ready for another “batch”. There is much killing to do, and there is no ceremony, no formality to the task of removing and stacking the cadavers. The logistics of handling bodies in death can be inelegant under the best of circumstances—here, in this process of group death, there is revulsion of every sense, and the wrongness of it screams and howls. No one who witnesses this can come away thinking that this is a “good death” for a dog or a cat.
In short, they should never be used.