Care2 Members Fight Against Gas Chambers in North Carolina



This straightforward question is boldly printed on the rescue website called Help Save One.  The site also explains in full detail the horrors of using carbon monoxide gas as an euthanasia method.


The founders of Help Save One, Marissa Stracaluzi and Meghan Barry have been animal advocates their whole lives. They are also Care2 members.  Every other week, the two young women travel from their home state of Rhode Island to high kill animal shelters in states where they gas pets and rescue as animals as possible that are on the “kill list.” 


In one year these passionate women have saved the lives of 600 pets – primarily dogs.  They have also changed the attitude about gassing for many people in rural communities in North Carolina, South Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee and Georgia.


I recently interviewed Marissa Stracaluzi just after she and Meghan Barry returned from a particularly hard rescue in Gaston County, NC.  Marissa and the shelter director, Reggie Horton had a highly publicized debate about his methods. 


And just like the bold statement on the Help Save One website, Marissa answered my questions without sugar coating any of the facts.


What happened that made this rescue so publicized?

Marissa: “The euthanasia list said there were between 15 – 20 dogs to be killed, but when we got to Gaston County there were only 7 dogs.  The shelter knew we were coming and had agreed we could pull the animals.” 


“The director told us that one dog had been euthanized early because of an open wound and he had given two dogs to the veterinary school.  We went to the vet school and took back the dogs, plus we found several other dogs hidden behind the shelter.” 


Then Reggie Horton held a press conference explaining how his shelter uses lethal injection on very young and old animals and how killing pets in carbon monoxide gas chambers is acceptable.  He said, “We appreciate the flexibility of using both methods.”


Horton also took credit for the rescue group coming to his shelter.  He told the Gaston Gazette, “Groups such as Help Save One play a critical role in rescuing animals that would otherwise have to be killed.  We are now placing thousands of animals each year, and that’s wonderful.”


Marissa: “I don’t usually want attention, but Horton misled people, gave them bad facts and hid animals from me.  He pushed me to remove as many dogs and cats as possible.”  And the media in Gaston County paid close attention.” 


Altogether they rescued the original 15 dogs, plus 7 cats, a litter of 5 puppies and another 10 individual puppies.  They even rescued two dogs that Gaston County listed as un-adoptable.


Tell me about the two un-adoptable dogs.

Marissa: “The conditions at the shelter were bad.  The dog runs are outside and it was 30 degrees.  I saw Violet, a Pit bull, who was circling around on the wet cement trying to find a comfortable place to sit down. She would lay down halfway and then get up and move around to find another spot.  She couldn’t get comfortable, she was shaking from the cold and she wouldn’t lie down.  There were no blankets or towels in the run.  I got a blanket for her, but it was immediately soaked up with water.  Finally we dried the run and put down a clean towel for her.”


“Violet had open sores on her face and a sign on her cage said, ‘fight dog’.  But I knew I couldn’t leave her behind. (Violet’s picture is above.) And the other dog was a very friendly Pit who jumped in the back of one of the volunteers cars.” 


What happens after you pull the animals?

Marissa: “First the animals are boarded and vetted.  Chuck Vachris who owns Grateful Pets gives us a huge discount.  The dogs and cats can’t leave the state without a health certificate, so they get checked out by a vet, get vaccinations and are fixed.”


“We have a great pool of volunteers.  I have to stress that the North Carolina residents don’t want gassing as much as us and they are great to work with.  Many of the other shelters use their own money to make the animals comfortable, like buying them beds.  They are looking for viable solutions to get their state to stop gassing.”


“Volunteers foster the pets in North Carolina and more volunteers foster in Rhode Island until we find every cat and dog a new home.”


“There is nothing humane about gassing an animal.  They are loaded up in carts and taken into the chamber and then loaded up after they are killed – all in front of the other dogs.  It really upsets them.”


Both Marissa and Meghan plan to continue their work until gassing is stopped in North Carolina and other states. 


On their website they have a simple answer to the bold question at the top of this page.  It says, “It (gassing) is not acceptable and never will be.”


One further note: The members of the Justice for Buddy page on Facebook are also giving assistance to Help Save One. 


Help Save One


Julie van Niekerk

We read and hear about all the bad stuff that is happening to animals - but what about those deeds that go ahead and are never exposed?

Tammy G.
Tammy G.9 years ago

I live in NC and I am highly ashamed to live in a barbaric State that permits gassing. I have worked in rescue for 14 years, I support help save one when I can and many other rescues that support non-gassing. I will not support a gassing shelter. ENOUGH already, it is a horrid way to die. NC has one of the largest euth. rates in the country when shelters sit empty in the North. Spay Laws must be written and enforced NOW!!!!

Jeannie Hernandez
Jean M.Hernandez9 years ago to target AVMA & state vet boards as well as the Dept of Agriculture that condone gas chambers & heartstick killings of U.S. shelter animals.

Lonette B.
L Barge9 years ago

Great Job! Compliments, hope you will keep on going! I live in Belgium. Here to it is hard to place all the dogs especially in winter and summer holidays time. We sponsor by donating food. I surely hope they do not kill them by gassing.

Carole H.
Carole H9 years ago

well done ladies keep up the good work

Mardi Gause
Mardi Gause9 years ago

I live in NC and I hate to hear about this. It makes me very ashamed. Thanks for all your good work~

Monica D.
Monica D9 years ago

What wonderful work Marissa and Meghan are doing. The rest of us on Care2 can support them, perhaps by calling local pet stores and asking them to sign the HSUS pledge to help rehome shelter animals.

Priscilla Burbano

beware everyone, we have heartles monsters living among us.

poepiesnoepie k.
Past Member 9 years ago

Another inhumane and sadistic actions... why liquidate these animals in such a horrific way??? Humans are getting sickos everyday!..

Trish R.
Trish R.9 years ago

I had no idea this was still going on. Highly disturbing.