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Talking to Shelters, Policy Makers and the Media About Gas Chambers

Whether you’re talking to a shelter director to express your concerns over the use of a gas chamber, asking a state legislator to support a state-wide ban of its use or writing a letter to the editor to inform your community about the issue, these talking points can help you make the most persuasive arguments.

  • A 2009 analysis proved that operating and maintaining a safe and effective gas chamber is actually more expensive than acquiring and using approved euthanasia drugs.
  • Gas chambers are not safer for shelter staff than euthanasia by injection. Chambers put staff at higher risk of bites and scratches when they transport and force animals into the chamber, and shelter staff have been injured and even killed by carbon monoxide gas.
  • Gas chambers cannot provide a “good death” for virtually any animal in a shelter setting. Old, young, ill or injured animals may begin experiencing painful effects of the gas before losing consciousness. And even healthy adult dogs and cats will suffer stress just by being placed in the dark, unfamiliar environment of a gas chamber.
  • Of the more than 3,000 brick-and-mortar shelters throughout the United States, only 50 or so are still using a gas chamber. Chamber use is not the industry standard—it is the rare exception.
  • A kind, compassionate death is the last gift we can give to our pets, and shelter animals deserve no less than the same skill and compassion that we would expect to see if we brought our own suffering animal to a veterinarian for a final act of mercy.
  • Our animal shelters should reflect the compassionate values of our community, and using gas chambers does not do that.

Remember, most people enter shelter work because they care about animals—they certainly do not enjoy killing them, much less killing them inhumanely. More often than not, they simply don’t have access to the tools needed to make the switch to euthanasia by injection), or the education and experience to understand the importance of making the transition. Berating or shaming them is counterproductive. Be passionate, but be respectful, and present the facts. It will help to give you credibility and carry your message further.

See this chart for a state-by-state look at the gas chamber usage and to find out about current activities to combat it.