Screenshot from the Facebook page of a friend who is not even a No Kill activist (click to view larger photo):
Fortunately, in this case, a rescuer was able to get to the pound by closing and Brutis is safe.
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.
Even though the names of the private citizens involved in this story are a matter of public record, I’m leaving them out. If you must know them, send a public records request to the Ashe County Manager. I will name the dog, however: she was a pit bull named Bullet.
In North Carolina, it is a Class H felony to “maliciously torture, mutilate, maim, cruelly beat, disfigure, poison, or kill, or cause or procure to be tortured, mutilated, maimed, cruelly beaten, disfigured, poisoned, or killed, any animal.”
So, if someone reports that they heard their neighbor beat his dog, heard the dog crying and yelping as if in great pain and then heard gunshots that ended the crying and yelping, do you think local law enforcement should perhaps at least investigate whether felony animal cruelty occurred?
If you said yes, I hope you don’t live in Ashe County, NC, because you would be very disappointed. No one seems to have told the folks in charge there that cruelly beating and killing a dog is a felony in the state of North Carolina. They all still seem to think that if a dog is your property, you can do whatever you want with her.
Sometime in September*, an Ashe County resident called the sheriff’s communications center to report that her neighbor had horribly beaten and killed his dog after the dog had killed her Yorkie. According to an email from a sheriff’s captain to County Manager Pat Mitchell, “neighbors and their children could hear dog crying and yelping and heard the beating” before the man shot and killed the dog.
The comm center referred the call to Animal Control, where it was handled by ACO Dana Shatley. According to an email from Animal Control Director Joe Testerman to Dr. Mitchell, the ACO “explained that Mr. ___ did have a legal right to destroy his own property,” and that had the man not killed his dog, he would have been told to keep the dog on his property and issued a citation.
Well, I guess that settles it, then.
One may presume the rules are different if the animal one beats and kills belongs to someone else. That would probably be theft.
According to one email, a sheriff’s employee reported the incident to social services because the man’s 3-year-old son was present during the killing, and to “Narcs” because the man is “a meth user” and a convicted felon.
None of the emails mention any concern over why a convicted felon has a firearm. I guess if he’s only using it to dispose of his own property they’re all good with that up in Ashe County.
*I don’t know the exact date of the incident because the only records County Manager Pat Mitchell sent me as a result of my public records request were emails written more than a month after the incident. Information I obtained elsewhere puts the date around Sept 23. Even though the emails reference calls to the county comm center, which are recorded and logged, I received no records from the sheriff’s department at all. Sheriff James Williams told me he had sent all dispatch records regarding this incident to Dr. Mitchell, and Dr. Mitchell told me she sent me everything she received. I can’t say if these records are being deliberately withheld from me or if this is just bureaucratic incompetence at work, but it appears the only way I would get these records is by filing a legal complaint against Ashe County.
Update on the case of Justice, the shih tzu hosed off in the Person County pound: This was in today’s Courier-Times (Roxboro,NC). The article itself is behind a paywall. (Here is a link to it for anyone who actually subscribes.)
I will update with more information when I have it.
For those who would like to speak or write to Person County officials about the incident or any experiences you may have had with [the employee]*, contact County Manager Heidi York or the Person County Commissioners. Many people have posted of their experiences in the comments or emailed me privately, but the only way to see justice for Justice is to speak out to the people who need to know this information.
NOTE ON COMMENTS: I am removing, editing or not approving comments that make threats or call for retribution on anyone. The purpose of FixNC is not to exact retribution on individuals, it’s to reform the shelters of North Carolina and make them safe places for pets who need homes. Yes, some people should be fired, in shelters all over the state. Lots of them, actually. But to call for harm to another person is unacceptable and does nothing to protect the shelter pets in North Carolina. I’m also editing certain language, and I’ve just about had enough of disrespectful, insulting comments, so I’m starting to crack down on those as well.
*UPDATE: Because the person in question has since been removed from working at the Person County pound, I have chosen not to continue publishing her name and have removed it from previous posts and comments (in most cases it has been replaced by [the employee] or [employee]). That will not, of course, remove it from public record or the rest of the internet, and anyone who wants to find it will. Many will disagree with this decision, but the purpose of FixNC is to make shelters safe places for pets in need, not to promote vindictiveness against people.