T-61 debate resurfaces in Serbia

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, July/August 2007:
BELGRADE, NOVI SAD–Mid-summer 2007 festivals in Belgrade
and Novi Sad, Serbia, became pretexts for street dog pogroms,
reported journalists and animal advocates Jelena Zaric and Jelena
Zaric, a frequent source for ANIMAL PEOPLE in recent years,
forwarded coverage from a variety of media of dog captures in
advance of the Youth Olympics in Belgrade. City veterinarian
Milivoje Lazic acknowledged killing dogs with the parlaytic drug
T-61, and claimed that the killing method was approved by the World
Society for the Protection of Animals.
Tinska, an actress, talk show host, author, and reporter
who may be the most prominent vegetarian in Serbia, alleged that
the 2007 Novi Sad music festival will put mayor Maja Gojkovic into
history as “the biggest animal killer” in the history of the city.

“Stray dogs have been killed by having detergent injected
straight to their hearts or by being buried alive,” Tinska wrote.
Informed of the reports by ANIMAL PEOPLE, WSPA director
general Peter Davies wrote to Gojkovic to express “severe welfare
objections to these culls,” if they occurred as Tinska described,
and offered WSPA help in “implementing a humane stray management
Davies mentioned that “Mass sterilisation of owned animals
can be done at cost” to prevent stray populations from growing.
WSPA companion animals program director Sarah Vallentine
wrote that “The WSPA guidelines on humane euthanasia of dogs and cats
state that the use of T-61 for euthanasia is acceptable, but with
strict caveats. T-61 should never be used without prior anesthesia.
The drug must only be administered very slowly, by intravenous
injection. The animal must be sufficiently sedated to allow slow,
precise, injection.
“The drug should not be used if there is a more acceptable
alternative,” Vallentine stipulated. “WSPA recommends sodium
pentobarbitone by intravenous injection. The operator must be
suitably trained and skilled.
“If any of these cannot be guaranteed,” Vallentine said,
“the use of T-61 is totally unacceptable. T-61 is mixture of three
drugs,” Vallentine explained. “It contains a local anesthetic, a
barbiturate derivative that renders the animal unconscious, and a
chloroform-like agent causing muscle paralysis. Death results from
asphyxia following paralysis of the respiratory muscles. If T-61 is
administered without prior analgesia, or too quickly, intense pain
may result due to paralysis before loss of consciousness.
“Because of this risk,” Vallentine elaborated, “there is
disagreement amongst the veterinary community as to the acceptability
of T-61. It is not accepted by the American Veterinary Medical
Association and Humane Society of the U.S., and is no longer
produced or licensed in the United States. It is, however, still
legal in the United Kingdom and Europe, and is widely used in a
number of European countries where barbitrates are hard to come by,
as in Serbia.”

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