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:


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.


Filed under gas chamber, Rowan County

4 responses to “Demolish the Rowan County gas chamber!

  1. Sandy Lee

    NC is becoming a laughing stock for rights of two legged as well as 4 legged residents. This is a cruel, barbaric and unnecssary way of killing. It needs to stop. I live in NC and am very ashamed of our state in many ways.

    • Michaela Ryan

      Sick, barbaric, unnecessary. This man is all of those and more. If he wants the chamber that bad then he should be the only one taking the health risks and listening. Like to see how long it lasts then.

  2. These animal death camps wherein animals are abused and killed inhumanely are a scar on the face of the good American people! This Clai Martin person is yet another sick, heartless jobsworth who probably scored LOW in the psych tests which btw, seems to be a pre-requisite in getting the job! I’d love to spit in his eye and shove him into a gas chamber!

  3. Debra

    for the love of God, please get rid of all gas chambers. Why embrace a method favored by the Nazis???

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