There are still an estimated 30 animal shelters in Texas that still use carbon monoxide to euthanize animals, but animal advocates are working towards ending this inhumane practice in the state for good.
Bills to ban gas chambers and require that homeless pets are euthanized by sodium pentobarbital injection (EBI) have been introduced by Representative Eddie Lucio III and Senator Kirk Watson, which have gained support from the Texas Humane Legislation Network (THLN), the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) and The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS).
“While I cringe at the thought of any animal being put down, I want to ensure that it is being done in the most humane way possible,” said Lucio. “Texas is already trending away from using gas as a means for euthanasia, and this bill will further that effort by preventing the use altogether.”
The gas used, typically carbon monoxide, can affect each animal differently and can subject them to prolonged fear, stress and suffering, along with causing aggressive behavior when multiple animals are gassed together. Unconsciousness and death don’t occur until there is enough buildup of gas in the lungs, which can take up to 30 minutes and cause terrified animals to suffer needlessly. It also poses a threat the safety and well being of shelter workers.
Even more horrifying are the stories of animals who have survived gassing, some getting a second chance, while others have had to endure going through it again.
“SB 360 is an effort to assure humane end-of-life treatment for homeless animals,” said Watson . “As a pet owner, I’ve made end-of-life choices that demonstrated sensitivity and respect for the animals I’ve loved. Animals living in shelters deserve that same consideration.”
Sadly, more than 100,000 dogs and cats are euthanized every year in Texas shelters, and carbon monoxide is still used in approximately 30 shelters, according to the THLN.
“With more than 1,000 Texas cities euthanizing their shelter dogs and cats without gas, we hope that the 30 or so remaining shelter facilities will see that they, too, can stop using gas,” Shelby Bobosky , THLN Legislative Chair, said in a statement. “Our hope is that with the passage of this bill, Texans can give what may have been a sad life for a dog or cat, a painless and peaceful end,” added Erin Shults, D.V.M. and THLN director.
Fortunately, attitudes are changing and the desire to end this practice is growing not only in Texas, but around the country.
This summer Rep. Jim Moran introduced House Resolution 736, which opposes the use of gas chambers, calls for all states to adopt the more humane method of euthanasia via lethal injection and seeks to ensure that shelter workers have ready access to training and certification for humane euthanasia techniques. Pennsylvania and Louisiana also recently joined a number of other states who have already banned gas chambers, while other states are working towards that goal.
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