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July 25, 2012

Rep. Moran Applauded for Animal Shelter Initiative Aimed at Eliminating Inhumane Euthanasia Method

The Humane Society of the United States thanks U.S Rep. Jim Moran, D-VA, co-chair of the Congressional Animal Protection Caucus, for introducing a resolution condemning the use of carbon monoxide gas chambers for euthanasia of shelter animals. The Resolution, H. Res. 736, calls for states to enact laws requiring shelters that must euthanize animals to use injectable drugs instead of gas chambers, and encourages states to remove barriers to use of the more humane injection technique.     

The HSUS considers use of the gas chamber in a shelter setting to be unacceptable under any circumstances.

“Euthanasia of dogs and cats in shelters is a tragedy that must come to an end through spaying and neutering of pets, increased adoption of pets from shelters and other approaches, but when an animal must be euthanized, it’s critical that it be done in the most compassionate way possible. Direct injection of approved euthanasia drugs, by which the animal quickly loses consciousness without experiencing pain or distress, is the most humane method currently available,” said Inga Fricke, director of sheltering and pet care issues for The HSUS. “Lesser alternatives like carbon monoxide gas chambers should never be used in shelter settings.”

The reasons The HSUS considers gas chambers inappropriate in shelter settings include:

  • Gas chambers cannot provide humane euthanasia for shelter populations: The animals euthanized in shelters are often old, young, ill or injured; none of these animals can be humanely euthanized in a gas chamber. Even healthy adult dogs and cats will suffer stress just by being placed in a gas chamber, making their death inhumane. 
  • Gas chambers pose grave dangers to staff: Gas chambers pose great physical and psychological harm to staff. Staff must handle, transport and place animals into the chamber, putting them at risk of bites and scratches. Animal care workers have also been injured and killed by carbon monoxide, a colorless, odorless and tasteless toxic gas. 
  • Euthanasia by injection is less expensive: Studies have proven that it is more expensive to operate a gas chamber than it is to purchase and use euthanasia drugs.  

To date, 19 states have already banned gas chambers. In 15 states the gas chamber is not banned outright, but shelters have the legal authority to acquire and use euthanasia drugs, referred to as “direct licensing,” so eliminating chambers is a policy determination of the shelter. In the remaining 16 states, shelters have no authority to acquire euthanasia drugs directly; they must rely on the cooperation of a local veterinarian to provide them.

When euthanasia must be performed in a shelter setting, euthanasia by injection is the only acceptable humane method. In states where shelters have the ability to acquire euthanasia drugs directly, all shelters still using a gas chamber should convert to euthanasia by injection immediately. Where direct licensing is not yet available, The HSUS will partner with its affiliate the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association in an effort to help shelters secure access to euthanasia drugs until a direct licensing measure is passed in their state. The HSUS will provide necessary training and assistance to any shelter committed to using injectable drugs.

Media Contact: Raul Arce-Contreras, 301-721-6440, rcontreras@humanesociety.org

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