Struggle for humane euthanasia continues in U.S., Philippines
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, November/December 2009:
An employee of the Lincoln County Animal Shelter in
Lincolnton, North Carolina escaped serious injury on October 20,
2009 when a newly installed gas chamber exploded. The man had just
killed several dogs. “Carbon monoxide was clearing out of the
machine when a fireball, propelled by pressure, blew open the door
of the gas chamber, burning the man and slamming the chamber door
into him,” reported Diane Turbyfill of the Gaston Gazette.
North Carolina Coalition for Humane Euthanasia secretary
Michele King, of Garner, North Carolina, forwarded to ANIMAL
PEOPLE a purchase order which she said “shows that the gas chamber
was formerly used in Reidsville, at Rockingham County Animal
Control,” where King said it “leaked repeatedly and was finally
removed. The same gas chamber company, Cutting Edge Fabrication in
Gastonia, sold another used gas chamber to Iredell County last
year,” King added. “That chamber also later exploded,” on July 22,
2008, with 10 dogs inside at the time.
Twenty-four North Carolina county animal control departments
still use gas chambers, said King.
New state legislation required shelters in New Mexico and
West Virginia to stop gassing animals effective on July 1, 2009.
Gassing also ended on that day in Griffin, Georgia, Dawn Bechtold
of U.S. Animal Protection told ANIMAL PEOPLE. Georgia law prohibited
installing new gas chambers after 1990, but allowed shelters that
already had them to continue using them. Bechtold and others have
been lobbying and litigating ever since to ensure that gas chambers
are retired and not replaced.
Police chief Jeff Straub, of Taylor, Texas, ended gassing
later in July 2009, upon learning that Taylor was the last to gas
animals within a 30-county radius.
U.S. progress against gassing encouraged Anna Cabrera of the
Philippine Animal Welfare Society to try again, after the national
Committee on Animal Welfare voted to continue to allow Philippine
animal control agencies to gas dogs with exhaust fumes from motor
vehicles. “We shall start campaigning actively with government
officials and the media,” Cabrera said, “to show them the cruelty
of such a practice.”
The Manila Times in November 2009 published photos of dogs
being gassed at Zamboanga City. “In other areas in the Philippines,
unclaimed dogs in pounds are either drowned or shot,” the Manila
Times mentioned, “while in some provinces, stray dogs are hunted
Instances of U.S. animal control agencies drowning and
shooting animals continue to come to light.
In Victorville, California, former Adelanto Animal Control
supervisor Kevin Murphy, 38, charged with drowning 50 kittens
between July and October 2007, on October 16, 2009 plea bargained a
sentence of 90 days of weekend jail time, three years on probation,
a fine of $350, and an order to attend six weekly personal
counseling sessions. Charged in March 2008, Murphy resigned his
animal control job in May 2008.
But there was apparently no penalty for animal control
officers in Navajo County, Arizona, who shot 40 to 50 dogs in May
2009 at the home of Edward Harvey, outside of Heber in the
northeastern part of the state. Harvey was jailed for a month after
Navajo County Sheriff’s officers found him in possession of
unlicensed and illegal firearms.
“”We feel the decision made in the field [to shoot the dogs] was the right one to prevent suffering for the animals,” Navajo
County health director Wade Kartchner told Glen Creno and Alex
Alenburg of the Arizona Republic.
The Navajo County contracts for shelter services with the
Humane Society of the White Mountains in Lakeside, but the humane
society was apparently not asked to impound the dogs. “Shooting is
not a humane way to end an animal’s suffering,” said Humane Society
of the White Mountains executive director Anna-Marie Rea.