Category Archives: Beaufort County

Demolish the gas chambers!

Iredell County gas chamber

Iredell County, NC, gas chamber. Photo by Flickr member NCCHE.

A “relatively painless” death can only occur in an environment where sensitivity, compassion and skill combine with efforts to minimize distress and anxiety. By contrast, gas systems take time to kill— during which animals experience distress and anxiety, and can struggle to survive. They can result in animals surviving the gassing, only to suffer even more. And they take longer to kill if animals are young, old, or have respiratory infections, which is common in some shelters. They are designed for the ease of shelter workers, not care and compassion for the animals.–A Call To Ban The Gas Chamber

The good news: Several NC counties, including Person, Johnston and Sampson, have recently announced plans to discontinue or restrict the use  of gas chambers and/or remove them completely. Other NC counties that recently joined the march toward civilized treatment of shelter pets include Brunswick County, where the CO chamber was last used in November 2011, according to inspection reports, and Craven-Pamlico, which ended the use of its chamber on Feb.1, 2012.

But bad news remains: There are still far too many North Carolina counties killing shelter pets in the barbaric contraptions. Fourteen counties still use gas chambers as their primary means of killing shelter pets. Several others have switched primarily to lethal injection but retain the CO chambers for use with wildlife and “dangerous” animals. (Often, feral cats are considered to be in the “dangerous” category, which means the gas chamber still gets used quite a lot in those places.)

The gas chamber has been banned in Arizona, Arkansas, California, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wyoming.

As long as the inhumane contraptions, throwbacks to our less-civilized past, remain in use in North Carolina, we will never be able to move forward to a humane future in which shelters will be places where animals’ lives are protected. The gas chambers in NC must be demolished. Even in counties where gas chamber use has ended, having a working chamber onsite means that it can be put back into full-time use again at any time, as it was in Sampson County.

Below is a county-by-county listing of the the places that still use gas chambers and links to contact information for county officials who can change that. I have written a sample letter that can be used as a template for your own letters to these officials. More points to use in a letter can be found in the American Humane Association gas chamber fact sheet.

Ashe County: If there were a “Worst Place in NC for Animals” award, Ashe County would be a nominee. Not only does their pound gas an incredibly high number of animals each year, but their pound director doesn’t care for adoptions, shooting is a standard animal control technique and animal cruelty is considered just one of those thingsAsk Ashe County officials to end the use of and demolish the barbaric gas chamber in their county! Contact information for Ashe County Officials is here. The Ashe County CO chamber was last inspected by NCDA&CS AWS in May 2012.

Alamance County/City of Burlington: Lethal injection is the primary means of killing pets at Burlington Animal Services, but the gas chamber is still used for wildlife and “dangerous” animals. Ask Alamance County/City of Burlington officials to completely end the use of and demolish the barbaric gas chamber! Find contact information here. It appears that the BAS gas chamber has not been inspected by the NCDA&CS Animal Welfare Service since 2009.

Beaufort County: The gas chamber is the primary means of killing animals in Beaufort County. Ask Beaufort County officials to end the use of  and demolish the barbaric gas chamber.  Find contact information here. The Beaufort County pound CO chamber was last inspected by NCDA&CS AWS in March 2012.

Cabarrus County: UPDATE: In July 2013, Cabarrus County accepted a $10,000 grant from HSUS to end its use of the gas chamber. The gas chamber is the primary means of killing animals in Cabarrus County. Ask Cabarrus County officials to end the use of and demolish the barbaric gas chamber in their county. Find contact information here. The CO chamber in Cabarrus County does not appear to have been inspected by NCDA&CS AWS since 2009.

Cleveland County: The gas chamber is the primary means of killing animals in Cleveland County. Ask Cleveland County officials to end the use of and demolish the barbaric gas chamber in their county. Find contact information here. The Cleveland County pound CO chamber was last inspected by NCDA&CS AWS in January 2012.

Davidson County: Davidson County’s gas chamber is one of the most infamous in North Carolina. In 2011, a shelter volunteer told the Davidson County commissioners that he saw “Davidson County Animal Shelter employees laugh as they put a mother cat, her kitten and a raccoon into the same compartment of the shelter’s gas chamber in 2009 and let them fight before they were euthanized.” Then over Thanksgiving weekend in 2011, two Thomasville police officers who were not trained or certified took a dog they had shot and wounded to the closed Davidson pound and killed it in the gas chamber. Despite massive opposition to the gas chamber by Davidson County residents, most county commissioners voted to continue using the barbaric contraption in August 2011. Ask Davidson County officials to end the use of and demolish the barbaric gas chamber in their county. Find contact information here. The Davidson County pound CO chamber does not appear to have been inspected by NCDA&CS AWS since 2009.

Gaston County: According to a June 2012 AWS inspection report,  the gas chamber is only used for about 1 percent of the animals killed in the Gaston County pound. Nonetheless, as long as the chamber remains operable and in the facility, it can be put into more frequent use at any time. Ask Gaston County officials to end the use of and demolish the barbaric gas chamber in their county. Find contact information here. The Gaston County pound CO chamber  was last inspected by NCDA&CS AWS since in June 2012.

Granville County: The gas chamber is the primary means of killing pets in the Granville County pound. Ask Granville County officials to end the use of and demolish the barbaric gas chamber in their county. Find contact information here. The Granville County pound CO chamber was last inspected by NCDA&CS AWS in  2011.

Iredell County: Iredell County is famous for being the site of one of several gas chamber explosions in North Carolina. In 2008, Iredell’s almost-brand-new gas chamber exploded with 10 dogs inside as a result of an electrical malfunction. Nonetheless, the county repaired the unit and had it back in service a year later. Ask Iredell County officials to end the use of and demolish the barbaric gas chamber in their county. Find contact information here. The Iredell County pound CO chamber was last inspected by NCDA&CS AWS in  May 2012.

Johnston County: UPDATE: Reportedly, the Johnston gas chamber is now NOT in use, all gas canisters have been disposed of and the chamber is to be dismantled and removed in the near future. In response to years of pressure by animal advocates, Johnston County pound manager Ed Wilkinson announced in December 2012 that he planned to decrease the use of the gas chamber to only “vicious” animals. Wilkinson gave no definition of what constitutes a “vicious” animal, so it’s possible that category could include feral cats, which are killed by the tens of thousands every year in NC pounds. Gas chamber use needs to end completely in Johnston County. As long as the chamber remains operable and in the facility, it can be put into more frequent use at any time. Please tell Johnston County officials and pound director Ernie Wilkinson that ending the use of the gas chamber represents progress, and ask them to begin implementing the programs proven to end the killing of healthy and treatable pets in their facility. Find contact information here. The Johnston County pound CO chamber does not appear to have been inspected by NCDA&CS AWS since 2009.

Martin County: The gas chamber is currently the primary means of killing pets in Martin County. Ask Martin County officials to end the use of and demolish the barbaric gas chamber in their county. Find contact information here. The Martin County pound CO chamber was last inspected by NCDA&CS AWS in 2011.

Nash County: The gas chamber is the primary means of killing animals in Nash County. Ask Nash County officials to end the use of and demolish the barbaric gas chamber in their county. Find contact information here. The CO chamber in Nash  County does not appear to have been inspected by NCDA&CS AWS since 2009.

Randolph County:  The gas chamber is the primary means of killing animals in Randolph County. Ask Randolph County officials to end the use of and demolish the barbaric gas chamber in their county. Find contact information here. The CO chamber in Randolph County does not appear to have ever been inspected by  NCDA&CS AWS.

Rowan County: The gas chamber is currently the primary means of killing pets in Rowan County. Ask Rowan County officials to end the use of and demolish the barbaric gas chamber in their county. Find contact information here. The Rowan County pound CO chamber was last inspected by NCDA&CS AWS in January 2012.

Union County: The gas chamber is currently the primary means of killing pets in Union County. Ask Union County officials to end the use of and demolish the barbaric gas chamber in their county. Find contact information here. The Union County pound CO chamber was last inspected by NCDA&CS AWS in September 2012.

Vance County: Vance County is reportedly eliminating or reducing use of its gas chamber. According to a Facebook post by the Vance County SPCA, the county has already ended the gas chamber use. But as long as the chamber remains operable and in the facility, it can be put back into frequent use at any time. Ask Vance County officials to demolish the gas chamber and remove it completely. Find contact information here. The Vance County pound CO chamber was last  inspected by NCDA&CS AWS in July 2011.

Wilkes County: The gas chamber is currently the primary means of killing pets in Wilkes County. Ask Wilkes County officials to end the use of and demolish the barbaric gas chamber in their county. Find contact information here. The Wilkes  County pound CO chamber was last inspected by NCDA&CS AWS in May 2012.

Wilson County: The gas chamber is currently the primary means of killing pets in Wilson County. Ask Wilson County officials to end the use of and demolish the barbaric gas chamber in their county. Find contact information here. The Wilson County pound CO chamber was last inspected by NCDA&CS AWS in 2011.

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Filed under Alamance County, Ashe County, Beaufort County, Cabarrus County, Cleveland County, Davidson County, gas chamber, Gaston County, Granville County, Iredell County, Johnston County, Martin County, Nash County, Randolph County, Rowan County, Union County, Vance County, Wilkes County, Wilson County

Open letter to the new Beaufort County AC chief

The Beaufort County pound has a new boss, Todd Taylor, who has worked there for the past 5 years as an animal control officer.

I figured it’s a perfect time to write him a letter asking for his outcome statistics (2011 numbers were not reported to NCDA&CS) and maybe getting him to take a look at the No Kill Equation … and while I’m at it, what about that heinous, barbaric gas chamber? Here’s an excerpt from my letter to him:

One of my projects is calculating the kill rates, adoption rates and owner reclaim rates for all NC shelters that receive public funds, based on the statistics they are required by law to submit to the NCDA&CS (you can see the dog & cat rates calculated here and the the kill rate rankings from highest to lowest here). Unfortunately, I am not able to include Beaufort County because your predecessor did not submit your facility’s 2011 statistics to the NCDA&CS. I’m wondering if you’d be interested in rectifying this, and if you would also consider sending me a copy of the stats. I could get them by filing an open records request, but it seems so much easier to just ask nicely.

The article in the Beaufort Observer mentioned that you don’t like the part of your job where you kill animals. That’s good to know, because perhaps it means you would be open to considering an alternative. There is a proven program to eliminate population-control killing that is currently being used with great success in open-admission public shelters just like yours in more than 50 communities across the US. The program is called the No Kill Equation, and you can read about it here. (I am also attaching a PDF file of a primer called “No Kill 101″).

Many of these communities are quite rural, much like Beaufort County, and six of them are just north of us in Virginia (Charlottesville, Fluvanna County, King George County, Lynchburg, Powhatan County and Williamsburg). Another rural Virginia community, Amelia County, is working on being that state’s seventh community to end population-control killing of healthy and treatable shelter pets. You can read about all of these communities here.

Most importantly for a small-budget shelter, many of the programs in the No Kill Equation are more cost-effective than impounding, warehousing and then killing animals. Some rely on private philanthropy, as in the use of rescue groups, which shifts costs of care from public taxpayers to private individuals and groups. Others, such as the use of volunteers, augment paid human resources. Still others, such as adoptions, bring in revenue. And, finally, some, such as neutering rather than killing feral cats, are simply less expensive both immediately and in the long-term, with exponential savings in terms of reducing births.

I have attached a PDF file of a publication called “Dollars and Sense” that describes No Kill’s cost effectiveness in detail  (also available for download here).

A final issue I’d like to raise is your use of the gas chamber as a killing method. The gas chamber is a throwback to a less civilized time when it was introduced by humane societies as an improvement over far more brutal ways of killing animals, such as drowning, shooting and beating, and has been denounced as inhumane by the Association of Shelter Veterinarians, the National Animal Control Association, and the American Humane Association. Use of the gas chamber has been banned in Arizona, Arkansas, California, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, Maine, Maryland, Oregon, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wyoming. Louisiana’s ban will go into effect in Jan. 2013. Beaufort County’s next-door neighbor, Craven County, discontinued the used of the gas chamber at Craven-Pamlico Animal Services last spring. Person County manager Heidi York has announced that their gas chamber will be phased out by July 2013. And the interim manager of the Sampson County pound has announced her desire to get rid of that facility’s gas chamber as well. Will you join this movement toward progress and ban the use of the gas chamber in your facility?

If you’d like to write a (respectful and polite) note to Beaufort County’s new animal control chief (other possible topics include asking him to actually list some pets for adoption on Petfinder or Adopt A Pet, the two most-used pet adoption sites, or maybe expanding their open hours to increase adoptions) you can send it to him at: todd.taylor@co.beaufort.nc.us. More contact information for him is available here.

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Filed under Beaufort County, gas chamber, NC county/municipal pounds

Adoptable pet of the day

jay 12-1623 in Beaufort County Animal Shelter

Jay, a 12-year-old spaniel and/or golden mix, needs out of the Beaufort County, NC pound ASAP.

Julianne writes: “This poor old man is at the Beaufort County Animal Shelter and doesn’t have much time. Gassing facility! He looks like a golden retriever mix to me but they have him listed as a spaniel mix. He’s 12 years old and desperately needs to get out there.”

The Beaufort County pound (a.k.a. the Betsy Bailey Nelson Animal Control Facility) in Washington, NC, is a high-kill, gas chamber facility with a director who doesn’t even bother to submit the pound’s outcome stats to the NCDA&CS. Their open hours are M-F l pm to 5:30 pm and Sat. 11 am to 3 pm. They are closed on holidays. They advise arriving half an hour early “to allow time to do the necessary paperwork and routine vaccinations,” because god forbid staff have to stay a little late to save an animal’s life.

If you are interested in helping Jay but can’t get to the Beaufort pound during their limited open hours, leave a comment and I will contact you and put you in touch with Julianne.

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Filed under Adoptable pet, Beaufort County