When the N.C. Board of Agriculture voted Feb. 13 to continue to allow animal shelters to use gas chambers to kill unwanted animals, it missed an ideal opportunity to raise North Carolina up to a more humane standard ("Gassing animals may be outlawed," by Lisa Sorg, Nov. 14). Using gas chambers to kill companion animals is not humane.
As many shelter workers testified during the public hearing on the subject, howls, cries and sounds of animals fighting coming from gas chambers are common. One worker even told of animals "coming back to life" at the dump because they were gassed incorrectly. This testimony, given by the professionals closest to the situation, was ignored.
The Board of Agriculture points out that the American Veterinary Medical Association allows for the use of carbon monoxide to kill animals. That is true; however, AVMA also approves of euthanasia by injection. We believe that euthanasia by injuection is the only humane method. How can shoving a dog or cat into a box, flipping a switch and walking away be considered humane or compassionate? For a frightened animal, being held, petted and comforted in its final moments of life may be the only kindness it has ever known. Shelter animals deserve the same type of peaceful death as our own family pets.
Euthanizing requires proper training, emotional stamina and proper funding. The American Humane Association will continue to work with North Carolina to protect animals. Last month, we deployed a team to Hendersonville to help in the All Creatures Great and Small crisis ("All Creatures' animals removed," by Lisa Sorg, Feb. 13). We are willing to award grants and train organizations in North Carolina on how to switch from gassing to EBI.
As long as pet overpopulation continues to plague North Carolina, it is a tragic fact of life that dogs and cats in shelters will be euthanized. There cannot be a double standard—one for homeless animals and one for our beloved pets.
Debrah Schnackenberg and Allie Phillips
American Humane Association