Gas chambers have no place in our animal shelters

I just signed this petition, the information it provides which stunned and sickened me:

Petitioning Utah State House
Gas chambers have no place in our animal shelters


Petition by Caitlin HallidayKaysville, Utah



Sign Caitlin’s petition


Nobody wants to put a pet to sleep. The process is heartbreaking, even in the best and most loving of circumstances. At least we can take solace in how fast and peaceful euthanasia by injection (EBI) can be. If injected with the proper drugs, an animal will lose consciousness within 3-5 seconds. This is why the vast majority of shelters use EBI. It is by far the most humane way to end an animal’s life.But Utah is one of just seven states that continue to use gas chambers for this purpose, for inexplicable reasons. Unlike with EBI, animals euthanized by gas chamber can take anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes to die, and they are often still conscious, terrified and distressed. Multiple animals are often placed in these metal boxes at once, and they strike at each other out of fear.

The Humane Society of the U.S. and every other major animal welfare group have condemned the use of these gas chambers, calling them cruel, inhumane, torturous, and archaic. There are fewer than three dozen U.S. shelters still employing them, and Utah has seven of them. Sadly, a bill that would have banned them just failed in the Utah House of Representatives.

We must reach out to our representatives and let them know that we will not stand for inhumane animal euthanasia. Cruel gas chambers have no place in our state’s shelters, and we must demand that they shut them down now.

EBI is as cost-effective, if not more so, than the gas chamber, so the financial argument that some representatives made holds no water. Some pointed to worker safety as a reason to keep using gas chambers — no cases have ever been reported of a shelter worker dying due to an accidental needle stick with EBI; however, there have been human injuries, deaths and explosions due to gas chamber use.

The lawmakers who argued against this bill did not do their homework. There is no reason to continue the use of this horrifying equipment, and we owe it to Utah’s pets to continue to fight on their behalf.

All animals deserve the kindness and dignity of EBI in their last moments of life. Please sign this petition telling the Utah representatives responsible for the failure of this bill that they did not represent the people with their vote.


Sign Caitlin’s petition


Here’s the comment I wrote when signing the petition:

How does this not constitute animal cruelty of the sort that, if anything similar were done by a private party, would be a felony?

How can this practice be justified in a civil society?  It can’t, of course.

So end this.  In all 11 states.  End it.



UPDATE: Just wanted to add this Comments-thread exchange between reader Bronco and me:

 Bronco / September 8, 2016 3:11 pm

You sort of get the idea that people who work in shelters love animals. How could a person that loves animals work at a shelter that does this? The idea that you could work at a shelter and perform mass executions is bizarre. I know its not 100% guaranteed they love animals but you would hope they at least like them.

Along the same lines I suppose not everyone in child care loves kids but they should at least like kids. Another example, plenty of workers in nursing homes that don’t treat the elderly very well . Some of the news in these areas lately is shameful.


Me / September 8, 2016 4:31 pm

My understanding is that these are county-owned-and-controlled animal-control operations (a.k.a. “the pound”), not privately owned (by individuals or nonprofits) actual shelters.

“Shelters” here is clearly a misnomer. I guess these days absolutely everything has a Madison Ave.-type name PR name. Ugh. In this case, though, calling it a shelter is an outright fraud. It leads people to believe that if they take a stray there, the dog or cat will at least not be killed.

This is really, really ugly. Thanks for commenting, Bronco.

Added as update, 9/8 at 4:44 p.m.