Category Archives: gas chamber

Randolph County officials love gas chamber so much they return HSUS grant

In December 2011, Randolph County accepted a $3,000 grant from HSUS that included a stipulation that the gas chamber be phased out as a means of killing pets in the county pound. More than two years later, however, Randolph has neglected to actually phase out the gas chamber. Johnston County, which also accepted a grant at the same time as Randolph, removed their gas chamber about a year ago.

When HSUS asked  the county to either honor its commitment to phase out the barbaric killing machine or give back the grant money, pound officials chose to give back the grant.

Since 2011, twelve NC counties have ended the use of gas chambers to kill shelter pets. Twenty three states have passed laws against gas chamber killing.

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. ~Dr. Michael R. Moyer, V.M.D.

Animal advocates may contact MiMi Cooper, the official who oversees operations at the Randolph County pound, at MMCooper@co.randolph.nc.us. Contact information for Randolph County commissioners, who could, if they wished, decide to mandate removal of the county’s gas chamber, can be found here.

Inspiration for  letters may be found here and  here, and this sample letter may be used as a template.

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Demolish the Rowan County gas chamber!

In response to recent anti-gas-chamber activism in Rowan County, pound director Clai Martin is digging in his heels to fight the attempt to take away his barbaric killing machine.

Martin cites “employee safety” as the reason he wants to keep his gas chamber. But an essay by Dr. Michael R. Moyer, V.M.D., past Director of the Shelter Animal Medicine Program at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, points out the fallacy of that argument:

Some argue that gas systems are appropriate for dangerous animals because it does not require “hands on” euthanasia by staff the way lethal injection would. But this argument ignores the necessity of not just moving those animals from their kennels to the euthanasia room, but then attempting to place those animals into a small, enclosed chamber. Any animal that can be managed into a chamber could be more safely and humanely tranquilized then given a lethal overdose of pentobarbital. (From “The Wrongness of It Screams and Howls”: An Expert Report on Gas Chamber Use at Animal Shelters.)

Indeed, thousands of non-gas-chamber pounds around the United States manage to safely kill as many or more pets each year as Rowan County does. (Clai Martin and his staff killed almost 48% of the cats and dogs in 2012, plus some raccoons and opossums who were most likely killed illegally.) Not to mention that there are hundreds of No Kill communities across the country, in which euthanasia is reserved for its true purpose in ending irremediable suffering and where gas chambers are never used. The safest option for workers at the Rowan County pound would be to end the killing of healthy and treatable pets altogether.

What’s more, gas chambers present health and safety risks to humans because carbon monoxide can leak or gas can accumulate and cause explosions. Such accidents have caused injury and death to shelter staff,  including a 2000 incident in which a Chattanooga Humane Society worker died of CO poisoning while removing a dead dog from the gas chamber and a 2009 explosion in Lincoln County, NC, that injured a pound employee. Chronic exposure to low levels of carbon monoxide can also cause serious health problems.

Shelter workers also report higher levels of psychological stress from having to use gas chambers to euthanize animals versus using EBI. According to the Association of Shelter Veterinarians Guidelines for Standards of Care in Animal Shelters, the CO chamber “takes longer than euthanasia by injection and has not been shown to provide emotional benefits for staff. Some shelter workers have reported being distressed by hearing animals vocalizing, scratching and howling in the chamber, and by having to repeat the process when animals survived the first procedure.”

Because of the considerable and obvious suffering inflicted, carbon monoxide systems desensitize animal shelter workers who use them to kill dogs and cats. Indeed, only a desensitized person could put animals into the device, close the door, push the button, step back and watch—knowing what is about to happen inside. Ironically, those hired to care for animals in need are forced to inflict this cruelty upon them as a part of their job duties. (From “The Wrongness of It Screams and Howls”: An Expert Report on Gas Chamber Use at Animal Shelters.)

Twenty three states have passed laws against gas chamber killing. Many formerly gassing counties across North Carolina have taken steps toward the civilized treatment of animals; at least 12 counties have junked the barbaric death machines since 2011. Currently, there are 10 NC gas chambers still in regular use, and two counties have gas chambers for occasional use.

Animal advocates may contact Rowan County commissioners using the information below and respectfully ask them to demolish the gas chamber and adopt the No Kill Equation:

Commissioners:

All commissioners can be reached by mail at 130 W. Innes Street, Salisbury, NC 28144.

Inspiration for  letters may be found here and  here, and this sample letter may be used as a template.

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Alexander County eliminates gas chamber

Alexander County has ended the use of CO gas to kill animals and its gas chamber has been destroyed, according to an HSUS press release (complete with photographic proof of the junked CO chamber).

Alexander is the twelfth NC county to end use of the barbaric gas chamber since 2011. Counties that still use gas chambers as the primary means of killing shelter pets are: Beaufort , Cleveland, Davidson, Granville, Martin,  Randolph, Rowan, Union, Wilkes and Wilson. Gaston and Nash counties primarily use lethal injection but still use gas to kill some animals.

NC Gas Chamber Counties Oct. 2013. Click map to view full size

Click map to view full size

Animal Advocates may find contact information for officials of gassing counties here. A sample letter to officials can be found here, and plenty of inspiration for what to write in your own letter can be found here.

Remember: The debate does not have to be between killing animals with CO and killing them with lethal injection. Counties can end the killing of healthy and treatable pets altogether and turn their pounds into bona fide shelters, where animals’ lives are protected.  More than 160 communities across the US have ended the debate over the best way to kill healthy and treatable shelter pets by SAVING THEM through implementation of  a cost-effectiveproven program for lifesaving success.

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Another one down: Iredell County removes gas chamber from pound

Iredell County officials announced Friday that they have removed the gas chamber from the county pound. Animal Services Director Brad Gates, former director of the Alexander County gas chamber pound, said the Iredell County gas chamber will be dismantled and its metal recycled.

Iredell county killed 72.57% of the dog and cats who entered their pound in 2012.

It’s becoming obvious that the people of North Carolina want to see a quick end to the use of  gas chambers in our state. Iredell County is the seventh North Carolina county to get rid of its gas chamber in less than a year. Gas chambers are still in existence in the following counties: Alexander, Beaufort, Cleveland, Davidson, Gaston (reportedly used only for certain animals), Granville, Martin, Nash (reportedly used only for certain animals), Randolph, Rowan, Union, Vance (gas not in use, but may be put back into use at any time), Wilkes and Wilson. Animal advocates in those counties may contact their county officials using the contact information here and urge them to implement civilized and humane treatment of the pets in their shelters, including (and in some cases starting with) the demolition of the barbaric gas chambers.

A CONCERT FOR SHELTER ANIMALS ~ To Raise Awareness about Inhumane Euthanasia in NCNext Friday night, Oct, 4, 2013, there will be a Dance Concert For Shelter Animals, calling for action to ban animal gas chambers,  at the Haw River Ballroom in Saxapahaw, NC, sponsored by Goathouse Refuge and other animal advocacy organizations. In addition to many musical guests, a featured speaker will be Michael R. Moyer, V.M.D., past director of the Shelter Animal Medicine Program at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine. (Shameless self-promotion alert: I will also deliver a brief message about the status of the fight against gas chambers in NC.) More information can be found on the Goathouse Refuge website.

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Demolish the Iredell County Gas Chamber!

Iredell County officials are hoping that new pound manager Brad Gates, will improve the “image” of Iredell’s high-kill gas chamber pound. Gates was previously director of the high-kill, gas chamber pound in Alexander County, which failed its most recent inspection during Gates’ tenure as director.  Gates was hired to run the pound after former director Chris Royal resigned amid suspicion of wrongdoing.

Here’s an idea, Iredell leaders: How about actually improving your county’s pound to turn it into a bona fide shelter that protects the lives of animals? First step: DEMOLISH THE GAS CHAMBER! Next step: end the killing of healthy and treatable pets altogether by adopting the cost-effectiveproven programs for lifesaving successMore than 171 (and counting!) communities across the US are doing it. It’s time to add Iredell County, NC, to that list.

Animal advocates may contact Iredell County leaders using the contact information below and respectfully ask them to make REAL improvements at their county pound:

County Manager: Ron Smith, rsmith@co.iredell.nc.us, 200 S. Center St., Statesville, NC 28677, 704-878-3050

Commissioners:

Iredell County Animal Services and Control 2012 Statistics

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Burlington Animal Services (Alamance County) to end gas chamber use

According to a Humane Society of the United States press release, Burlington Animal Services, which serves the city of Burlington and Alamance County, accepted a grant with a provision that they end all use of the facility’s gas chamber.

The amount of the grant wasn’t mentioned, but previous HSUS grants of this type have been between $7,000 and $10,000. Also not mentioned is any provision for removal of the gas chamber so that it can not be put into service again, but previous grants have stipulated removal within 6 months.

Burlington Animal Services killed 72.53 percent of the dogs and cats that came in during 2012. This is slightly up from the kill rate of 70.90 percent  in 2011.

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Ashe County commissioners vote to end gas chamber use

Ashe County commissioners voted Monday to take a forward step toward civilized treatment of animals by ending the use of the carbon monoxide gas chamber in the county pound.

Voting to end the use of the barbaric gas chamber were Gary Roark, William Sands and Judy Poe. Commissioners had received hundreds of emails and calls from people against the gas chamber, and Commissioner Sands said that he was prompted to change his opinion and oppose its use after seeing an online video of animals dying in one.

The Ashe County pound can receive a grant of at least $7,000 through HSUS providing the gas chamber is dismantled and removed from the premises within 6 months.

Working gas chambers remain in Alamance, Beaufort, Cleveland, Davidson, Gaston, Granville, Iredell, Martin, Nash, Randolph, Rowan, Union, Vance, Wilkes, and Wilson Counties. Cabarrus County ended gas chamber use last month and will accept an HSUS grant but has not yet removed the chamber. Vance County has reportedly not used their gas chamber since November, 2012, but it remains in the facility. Lethal injection is reportedly the primary means of killing in Alamance, Gaston and Nash counties, but the gas chambers remain.

Advocates can find contact information for officials in gas chamber counties here.

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Ashe County commissioners to vote on gas chamber use

UPDATE: On Monday, Aug. 19, Ashe County commissioners voted 3-2 to discontinue gas chamber use at the county pound.

Ashe County commissioners decided last week to vote at the board’s next meeting Aug. 19, 2013, on whether to continue use of the CO gas chamber to kill pets in the county pound.

At least one commissioner has already changed his mind after seeing videos of the process and will vote against continued CO use, according to an article in the Mountain Times:

“I don’t know how many emails and telephone calls I got concerning this gas chamber over at animal control,” Ashe County Commissioner Gary Roark said Monday. “They want us to revisit that to eliminate it.”

Those calls and emails prompted Roark to further research the use of CO chambers, he said, and reverse his opinion on the subject.

“I’ve done some research online, and some of the videos show dogs just laying there and jerking (during the euthanization process),” Roark said. “I know I voted last time to keep that, but I’m not for it once I found that out. From what I’ve seen, I’d like to see it closed.”

“I’d vote with you,” Commissioner William Sands told Roark.

If  Roark and Sands vote against CO use, then  one more vote by a member of the five-person board would make a majority against the gas chamber.

Animal advocates who would like to thank Commissioners Roark and Sands for their careful consideration of the issue or respectfully inform other board members about the realities of the gas chamber can contact Larry Rhodes, Judy Porter Poe, Gerald Price, Gary Roark and  William Sands at administration@ashecountygov.com, 336-846-5501, fax 336-846-5516 or  by mailing to 150 Government Circle Suite 2500, Jefferson, NC 28640.

Inspiration for  letters may be found here and  here, and this sample letter may be used as a template.

One important point for commissioners to consider is that the debate does not have to be between killing animals with CO and killing them with lethal injection. They could end the killing of healthy and treatable pets altogether, and turn their county pound into a bona fide shelter, where animals’ lives are protected.  More than 160 communities across the US have ended the debate over the best way to kill healthy and treatable shelter pets by SAVING THEM through implementation of  a cost-effectiveproven program for lifesaving success. It’s time for Ashe County, NC, to join that list.

Veterinarians and regulatory authorities often approach the issue of humane euthanasia, particularly in animal shelters, from a technical starting point, having already accepted fait accompli that mass killing is necessary. While there are real technical concerns with carbon monoxide chamber, mass killing of dogs and cats in the shelter environment is not necessary, good, or required. The premise that there are “too few homes” for the millions of pets entering shelters each year is belied by the millions of pets acquired by new and existing pet owners. The premise that pets entering shelters are “not adoptable” for health problems—problems that are seen, diagnosed, and treated by veterinarians in these very same communities—is not correct. They are treatable and adoptable in the vast majority of cases. The premise that there is some public good in taking free-roaming cats  into shelters, terrorizing them in confinement for a stray hold, then killing them because  they’re “unadoptable” is not merely Sisyphean, it is cruel and ineffectual at successfully managing free roaming cat populations or free roaming cat “nuisance” complaints. ~Michael R. Moyer, V.M.D

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Gas Chambers “should never be used”

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.

Read more here (courtesy of the No Kill Advocacy Center).

 

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Cabarrus County ends gas chamber use

Cabarrus County has reportedly ended the use of its gas chamber in its pound after accepting a $10,000 grant from HSUS. It’s unclear if and when the gas chamber will be dismantled and removed from the facility so that it may never be used again, but previous HSUS grants have stipulated removal within 6 months.

Ending the use of the gas chamber is a very good thing, but what has NOT ended in Cabarrus County is the killing of healthy and treatable shelter pets. The 2012 reported kill rate in Cabarrus was 52%, which is down from previous years but still means most animals who go into that pound end up in the dumpster.

One thing being kept alive in Cabarrus is the lie that such killing is “euthanasia” or some sort of kindness.  Judy Sims, executive director of the Humane Society of Concord & Greater Cabarrus County, ghoulishly extolled the killing of pets by lethal injection, saying the animals “just drift off to sleep in a very peaceful manner.” Oh really? (Warning: disturbing video.)

“Although better than gas systems by far, lethal injection is not always painless either, as anyone who has witnessed the killing of animals in shelters can attest. With some animals, there is fear, disorientation, nausea and many times even a struggle. A dog who is skittish, for example, is made even more fearful by the smells and surroundings of the animal shelter. He doesn’t understand why he is there and away from the only family he has ever loved. To kill this dog, he may have to be “catch-poled” a device that wraps a hard-wire noose around the dog’s neck. (Disturbing video of a dog being dragged by a catchpole here.)

“He struggles to free himself from the grip, only to result in more fear and pain when he realizes he cannot. The dog often urinates and defecates on himself, unsure of what is occurring. Often the head is held hard to the ground or against the wall so that another staff member can enter the kennel and inject him with a sedative. While the catch-pole is left around the neck, the dog struggles to maintain his balance, he tries to stand, but his legs give way. He is frightened by the people around him. He does not understand what is happening. He goes limp and then unconscious. That is when staff administers the fatal dose.”  (No Kill Advocacy Center.)

More than 160 communities across the US have ended the debate over the best way to kill healthy and treatable shelter pets by SAVING THEM. There is no reason Cabarrus County cannot do the same.

Animal advocates can contact Cabarrus County officials (contact information below) and ask them to mandate adoption of a cost-effectiveproven program for lifesaving success in their county.

County Manager: Mike Downs, mkdowns@cabarruscounty.us,  704-920-2100, 65 Church Street SE, PO Box 707, Concord, NC 28026-070, FAX: 704-920-2250.

Commissioners:
Elizabeth “Liz” Poole: efpoole@cabarruscounty.us, 210 Ravine Circle, Concord, NC 28025;
H. Jay White, Sr: jwhite@cabarruscounty.us, P.O. Box 368, 71 McCachern Blvd, Concord, NC 28026;
Larry Burrage:​ lmburrage@cabarruscounty.us, P.O. Box 707, Concord, NC 28026​;
Christopher A. Measmer: cameasmer@cabarruscounty.us, 419 Paddington Drive, Concord, NC 28025;
Stephen “Steve” M. Morris: smmorris@cabarruscounty.us, 49 Georgia Street NW,Concord, NC 28025.

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