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The HSUS Applauds Pennsylvania House Vote to Ban Gas Chambers at Animal Shelters

The Humane Society of the United States applauds the Pennsylvania House for voting to pass House Bill 2630, which would ban the use of carbon monoxide chambers at animal shelters, and allow shelter personnel to procure the drugs necessary to euthanize animals in a humane manner. The bill, sponsored by Rep. John Maher, R-Allegheny, passed 189 to 6, and now moves to the Pennsylvania Senate.
“We are pleased to see that the overwhelming majority of Pennsylvania’s representatives agree that using carbon monoxide chambers in a shelter setting is unacceptable,” says Sarah Speed, Pennsylvania state director for The HSUS. “The Humane Society of the United States would like to extend our thanks to Representative Maher for moving this bill forward and we now urge the Senate to take swift action and to pass this bill.”

Current Pennsylvania law makes it difficult for animal shelters to procure the drugs needed to euthanize animals humanely, because the drugs can only be licensed to veterinarians, leaving the animals to suffer more painful and gruesome options such as gas chambers. The new legislation, HB 2630, bans gas chambers and also provides meaningful access to sodium pentobarbital to help ensure that when animals must be euthanized in shelters across the Commonwealth it is done as humanely as possible.  It also imposes penalties for violations of the act.

“The swift passage of HB 2630 means the tragic euthanasia of cats and dogs by gas chambers in Pennsylvania will soon come to an end,” said Rep. Maher immediately after passage. “I’m excited by the overwhelming passage in the House and hopeful for quick Senate action.”

On Wednesday, the Pennsylvania House is expected to take up the Costs of Care of Seized Animals Act, HB 2409, a bill stating that owners have a financial obligation for the care for their pets. In addition, owners will be held responsible for costs of care if their animals are seized for cruelty or neglect. By shifting the burden for the cost of care from an investigating agency to the alleged abuser, the act will encourage the vigorous investigation and enforcement of animal cruelty and reduce the financial costs to local taxpayers. 


  • The few animal shelters in Pennsylvania which use out of date carbon monoxide chambers as a method of euthanasia do so because they have no access to a veterinarian to provide the necessary euthanasia drugs. HB 2630 will allow shelters across the Commonwealth the ability to procure euthanasia drugs themselves, at a lower cost – both practically and emotionally – over operating a carbon monoxide chamber.
  • 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 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.
  • Studies have proven that it is more expensive to operate a gas chamber than it is to purchase and use euthanasia drugs. 

For more information on animal welfare legislation in Pennsylvania, please visit humanesociety.org/pennsylvania.


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