Hooray for Stokes County, North Carolina. They decided not to wait any longer for state legislators to decide about ending the use of gas chambers to euthanise homeless pets. Instead the county put its own ban on the cruel practice.
Earlier in 2009 the North Carolina Coalition for Humane Euthanasia put pressure on state politicians to review their policies for euthanising animals. This led to two bills that were introduced to legislators.
The first was House Bill 6 or Davie’s Law which was introduced by Rep. Cary Allred. It prohibited any animal from being killed in a carbon monoxide gas chamber. Davie’s Law was named after a shelter puppy that survived a gas chamber killing and was rescued when a couple heard him crying from inside a garbage bag in a dumpster in Davie County.
The second proposal, Bill 27 was a watered down compromise that banned gas chambers for most pets, but allowed the procedure for wild or dangerous animals. Feral cats were among those included in this category.
For a little while there was a flurry of activity as animal advocates reported horror stories about terrified animals forced into gas chambers and their lingering inhumane deaths.
Unfortunately legislators also heard from animal control officers and even the North Carolina American Veterinary Medical Association that the use of gas chambers could be considered a humane method of euthanasia, if it is done properly.
There was even a political scandal during the hearings with Rep. Allred that eventually led to him stepping down from his office.
Ultimately all of the debates, statistics and scandals didn’t matter in the end. According to the Animal Law Coalition, both NC Bills “were defeated and the legislation is dead for this session.”
The good news is that most of the state’s animal shelters have made the decision to toss out their gas chambers even without a statewide law and now Stokes County has joined them.
Phillip Hanby, the director of the Stokes County Animal Shelter said, “We knew eventually we would go to injections; it’s just taken time.”
It isn’t clear from his statements if Hanby is a wholehearted supporter of the new policy, but he is moving in the right direction. In an interview with Stokes County News he explained that the workload for his staff has increased because of the ban and because his staff must now give individual injections to the 30 cats and dogs euthanised every week, but “it’s something that needed to be done,” he said.
To decrease the workload for his staff Hanby is working with local organizations such as the Stokes County Humane Society and Stokes County Animal Rescue to place adoptable pets and educate pet owners about having their animals spayed and neutered. (Yes! Mimi's note.)
The shelter has also linked their website to Petfinder.com and their new Facebook page has helped find homes for cats and dogs from as far away as New York and Pennsylvania.
Mona Triplett with the Stokes Country Humane Society is pleased with the efforts made. She said, “I’m so proud of Stokes Country because they’re placing value on our pets. The Animal Shelter is making great strides in the community.”
There are still 31 animal shelters in North Carolina that use gas chambers to euthanize homeless pets.
Click here to read more about the subject: Animals Continue to Die While Politicians Debate