Is there ever a “good” reason to use a gas chamber for euthanizing homeless animals? That’s the issue being hotly debated by politicians in North Carolina as they review two new euthanasia bills.
North Carolina is one of the few states left that use the cruel method of gas chambers filled with carbon monoxide for euthanasia. Now there are two different legislative bills being proposed to ban the practice. One way or another, North Carolina will finally step out of the dark ages and enter the 21st century.
The good news is that the majority of the state’s animal shelters have already tossed out their gas chambers and instituted the more humane method of euthanasia by lethal injection. But thirty-two of them are holdouts who continually ignore public pleas to stop and whichever bill passes, they will be forced to comply.
Here are the differences between the two bills. Introduced by Rep. Cary Allred, House Bill 6 or Davie’s Law is the purer version of the proposals. It prohibits any animal from being killed through the use of a gas chamber. The bill was named after a shelter puppy that survived a gas chamber killing and was rescued after a couple heard him crying from inside a garbage bag in a dumpster in Davie County. Allred also showed how lethal injection would save the state money.
In his presentation Allred said, “Animals do have rights. If they didn’t we wouldn’t have animal welfare laws. Animals have feelings. If they didn’t have feelings, they wouldn’t love you the way they do.”
Davie’s Law is supported by the American Humane Association and the North Carolina Coalition for Humane Euthanasia as well as other animal rescue groups.
Bill 27 is more of a compromise that bans carbon monoxide poisoning, except for cases of wild or dangerous animals. They include feral cats in this category.
Some extremists are fighting both bills saying that gas chambers are humane. Lt. Michelle Starnes of the Union County Sheriff’s office and who oversees animal control said, “It is my firm belief that inhalation is just as humane.” She thinks each county should make their own decision.
Alice Singh, from the Coalition for Humane Euthanasia told legislators that even the wild animals suffer. “I’ve watched them where you put the animals in, one at a time,” Singh said about gas chambers. “You get put in this metal box and you hear the lid slam…They’re scared. They’re horrified. And the animals don’t die immediately and you can hear some scream.”
The North Carolina American Veterinary Medical Association is remaining neutral about the practice. And their national group AVMA put out a statement that the use of gas chambers is a humane method of euthanizing. However their policy excludes the killing if the animals are less than 16 weeks, pregnant or sick. Try to figure that one out – shouldn’t humane be for everyone?
At this point the legislators have not acted on either Bill. If you live in North Carolina, please look closely at the proposals and make your voice heard. It is sad enough that we have to euthanize unwanted pets, but to make them suffer during their last few moments of life is incomprehensible.