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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.

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Please consider signing this petition to shut down this place in Westport, MA

Internet petitions of this sort are helping and saving many, many abused animals.  What I don’t understand about this situation is why it’s been allowed to exist for well more than a decade after it was publicly known about.

The petition is by IAnimal South Coast Pet Rescue and Education, Inc.

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Frannie [with heartbreaking addendum added]

St. Francis (Frannie) was first reported to our group – Val’s Pals GSD and Large Paw Rescue –  via another rescue named Forgotten Dogs of 5th Ward (in Houston). They are a group who has volunteers go into the 5th Ward area and feed the enormous number of homeless dogs. We were alerted to her on the evening of Wednesday, December 16th. The person who saw her noticed her eating on the carcass of another dead animal.

Abandoned German Shepherd Who Had Given Up on Life Makes an Astonishing Recovery, Melanie, via social media and then Life With Dogs, yesterday

I’m at it again.  Sorry; can’t help it.

Hey, I don’t post here at AB just to trash pols, journalists and judges/justices!  There’s method to my madness.


ADDENDUM: And then there is this, posted this morning on the Washington Post’s website:

The dog, a brown and black Yorkshire terrier mix, only had a purple collar on its neck and could be heard faintly whining when a couple found it last weekend, abandoned and covered in urine and feces inside a crate outside an apartment complex in Alexandria.

They took it to a nearby veterinarian clinic where it ultimately had to be euthanized because it was in such poor health.

The incident happened Sunday, and authorities in Alexandria are offering a $1,000 reward for information in the case that leads to a prosecution of the person or people involved.

Abandoned dog found covered in urine and feces in crate in Alexandria, Dana Hedgpeth

Added 8/19 at 12:40 p.m.

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THIS makes me VERY happy.

I go to fairly extreme lengths to avoid buying products from companies that do testing on animals. Ology bar soap and liquid hand soap, which I get at Walgreens, is a favorite, but also Alberto Culver products and a shampoo brand I pick up at Dollar Tree (my mind is blanking on the brand, and I don’t have any right now)*, and Argan Oil of Morocco, which is available at Walgreens and Walmart, for a nice touch after shampooing.

Okay, the extreme lengths are just reading labels and googling brands.  But still ….

It’s nice that soon (although not soon enough) I won’t be so limited.  But I’ll still remember the brands that did this voluntarily.

Go Humane Society!


TYPO-CORRECTED 6/9 at 1:33 p.m


*It’s White Rain. Added 6/9 at 3:02 p.m.


UPDATE: In the comments thread, reader Longtooth posted a link to this article published at Huffington Post today about the palm oil industry.  That article in turn links to this one published at HuffPost last September. Added 6/9 at 4:54 p.m.

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Bear with me, AB readers. No pun intended. (OK, well sort of a pun intended.)

Regular AB readers know that from time to time I post links to web pages concerning animal welfare matters, including special-event donation request links, and so here’s another one, which I received in an email this afternoon.  And here’s the sort-0f pun intended.

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Day of Giving benefiting Pets for Life today

If you care about animals and the people who love their pets dearly but can’t afford the necessary medical care or struggle mightily to buy the pet food, please click this link and this link and then maybe the links to some of their stories, like these:


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Don’t buy eggs at Costco. Buy them at Walmart instead. Seriously.

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Brad Pitt and Bill Maher say Costco contributes to animal cruelty by selling eggs from caged hens.

Pitt sent a letter to the chief executive of the big-box chain Thursday asking the company to stop selling eggs produced this way. Pitt’s letter to Craig Jelinek says caged birds suffer atrophy of their muscles and bones from years of immobility, adding that the cages have been banned in California and much of Europe.

“As you know, these birds producing eggs for your shelves are crammed five or more into cages that are not large enough for even one hen to spread her wings,” Pitt writes.

Maher took aim at the company in an editorial published last week by The New York Times.

“Multiple investigations into battery cages document animals with deteriorated spinal cords, some who have become paralyzed and then mummified in their cages,” Maher wrote. “Imagine cramming five cats or dogs into tiny cages, hundreds of thousands in each shed, for their entire lives. That would warrant cruelty charges, of course. But when the egg industry does it to hens, it’s considered business as usual.”

Both commended Costco for its other animal-welfare efforts and called on the company to make good on its 2007 promise to move toward uncaging its egg-laying hens.

— Brad Pitt, Bill Maher slam Costco, speak up for caged hens, Associated Press, today

A few years ago I became a mostly-vegetarian because agribusiness’s treatment of animals was bothering me enough for me to make the change.  I eat fish, cage-free eggs and free-range chicken, but no other meat or poultry. I’ve become very conscious of which stores sell cage-free eggs and free-range chicken, and the relative prices for these.  Trader Joe’s has by far the least expensive cage-free eggs.  Their free-range chicken—they sell two brands—is relatively reasonable, too.  Which is to say, it’s more expensive than non-free-range, of course, but not exorbitant.

A few weeks ago, I stopped in at a Walmart that has a full grocery store within it and as I was passing the eggs saw …  these.  Wikipedia explains:

The Happy Egg Company is one of the UK’s largest free-range egg brands. Originally setup in January 2009 by Noble Foods, the brand’s annual turn over for 2013 was close to £75 million. The brand philosophy is to put the welfare of their hens first and the company claim to operate above established free-range egg production standards. The company’s farms have 20% tree coverage and assorted environmental enhancements.

The brand launched in the US in October 2012. In January 2015, the American Humane Association announced that the company is the first egg producer to receive humane certification.

Okay, they’re expensive—about $.40 more per dozen than a cage-free brand that Walmart sells, which in turn are well more expensive than the eggs from caged hens.  But everyone has his or her priorities.  I love eggs but would no longer eat them if I couldn’t get them from cage-free hens.  And free-range, of course, is better.  And apparently there are a lot of Brits who think the extra cost is worth it, too.  The company is only six years old and doing quite well.

Here in this country an epidemic of bird flu in several western states has caused a significant rise in the price of eggs recently.  And most of the eggs Walmart sells are, of course, other brands, most of them not cage-free.  But let’s hear it for Walmart for offering this brand.  And may The Happy Egg Company find this country a friendly market.

As for Costco, people who care about this issue and who shop regularly at Costco should buy their eggs elsewhere.


UPDATE: Actor Ryan Gosling beat the other celebs to the punch.  In an open letter to Costco’s CEO last month in the wake of an undercover investigation by the Humane Society of the United States, Gosling wrote:

…. Video footage revealed abhorrent cruelty including rows upon rows of birds confined in filth-laden cages with the mummified corpses of their cage-mates—eating, sleeping, defecating, and laying eggs on top of dead birds—and hens’ wings, legs, and necks trapped in the corroded wires of their battery cages.

Furthermore, it is appalling that Costco has been selling these eggs with deceptive labeling on cartons featuring graphics of birds living out in a green pasture. You’re already eliminating cages for veal calves and pigs – don’t you feel that chickens also deserve the same mercy?

So many corporations are meeting public demand for more humane products and transparency in the food chain.

I sincerely hope that Costco will set plans now to go completely cage-free for its eggs.


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