As the race for governor in Illinois heated up this week, Governor Pat Quinn (D) released a controversial TV ad that accused his opponent Senator Bill Brady (R) of supporting mass euthanasia of homeless cats and dogs in gas chambers.
The ad received national attention, but was this a game of dirty politics for the Governor or a story that had to be revealed about the Senator?
The TV ad showed a video that is disturbing and apparently intended as a tactic to scare away votes. But from an animal welfare aspect it may have inadvertently introduced a new audience to the cruelty of using gas chambers as a method of killing unwanted pets.
It has been my experience that many people aren’t even aware that animal shelters routinely euthanize animals. And showing carbon monoxide gas chambers, which is one of the most horrific methods for carrying out euthanasia may have been enlightening.
THE AD AND VIDEO
Gov. Quinn’s TV ad is graphic and shows multiple dogs being tossed into a metal container. Their cries and whimpers are heard in the background.
A message printed over the scene reads, “Just two days after Bill Brady won the primary for governor, Senator Brady’s first priority was to sponsor a bill that would mass euthanize sheltered dogs and cats in gas chambers.”
The TV ad seems to have accomplished what was intended. On the plus side it got the attention of animal-lovers from both political parties. But the ad also used innocent animals as political pawns, incorporated fear tactics and had several inaccurate facts. Politifact found three they deemed worth mentioning.
THE TV AD ERRORS
First it is true Sen. Brady introduced a bill that would have amended a 2009 law about euthanasia in animal shelters. The 2009 law said shelters could euthanize animals in a gas chamber one at a time and if they had justification for using the method. It also stated a veterinarian had to be present during the entire procedure.
These restrictions made it more costly for shelters to use gas chambers and instead most began using the more humane method of euthanasia by lethal injection.
Brady’s bill would have lifted the “one animal at a time limit,” making it more financially attractive to use carbon monoxide gas.
This would have widened the number of animals killed, but it wasn’t mass euthanasia as described in the TV ad.
Second, the ad shows dogs being dropped into the gas chamber on top of each other. Brady’s bill would have called for separate sections for each cat and dog.
Third, the bill is not active as alluded to in the TV ad. Brady dropped the piece of legislation only a few days after introducing it. This happened after meeting with representatives with the Humane Society of the United States.
So after reading the facts, how would you rate Gov. Quinn’s ad? Was it dirty politics or a story that voters had to hear?