AVMA to Condemn Gas Chambers for “Routine Euthanasia” of Dogs and Cats?
|July 26, 2011||Posted by russmead under Gas Chambers|
Though the fine print of the American Veterinary Medical Association’s current and past Euthanasia Reports contain strong evidence of the cruelty and danger of carbon monoxide gas chambers used to kill shelter animals, the AVMA has continued to insist such use of the medieval devices is "acceptable".
In its proposed 2011 Euthanasia report, AVMA announces carbon monoxide gas is not recommended for "routine euthanasia" of dogs and cats. The proposed report notes that it can be "challenging" and "costly" for shelters to meet all of the requirements necessary for safe and effective use of carbon monoxide gas, assuming that is even possible, and concludes:
"[T]here is substantial risk to personnel (hypoxia) if safety precautions are not observed. Consequently, carbon monoxide is conditionally acceptable for use in institutional situations where appropriately designed and maintained equipment and trained and monitored personnel are available to administer it, but it is not recommended for routine euthanasia of cats and dogs. It may be considered in unusual or rare circumstances, such as natural disasters and large-scale disease outbreaks. Alternate methods with fewer conditions are recommended where feasible."
It is not entirely clear what is meant by "routine euthanasia". May a shelter decide some killings of dogs and cats are not "routine" and so use the gas chamber?
Also, some animals are more equal apparently. Why allow use of CO gas chambers for any animals, particularly other mammals, if it is not acceptable for dogs and cats? And what is meant by "[a]lternate methods…are recommended where feasible". Does this mean a shelter can decide there are no "feasible" "[a]lternate methods and continue to use CO gas chambers?
AVMA’s Current Euthanasia Report
Still, this is a remarkable improvement in the AMVA’s guidelines. Until now the AVMA has claimed use of carbon monoxide gas chambers is an "acceptable" method of "euthanasia". The AVMA’s stance has been seen as a green light for shelters to continue to use this outmoded, barbaric means of killing animals.
Many never read the AVMA’s fine print.
The 2007 AVMA Policy on Euthanasia states CO gas chambers are "acceptable" as a means of killing as long as the proverbial camel fits through the eye of a needle. The AVMA envisions a laboratory setting rather than the reality, which is untrained shelter staff shoving animals into a gas chamber, turning it on and leaving the room. The AVMA’s 2007 Policy on Euthanasia states:
"commercially compressed CO [gas must be] used and the following precautions …taken: (1) personnel using CO must be instructed thoroughly in its use and must understand its hazards and limitations; (2) the CO chamber must be of the highest quality construction and should allow for separation of individual animals; (3) the CO source and chamber must be located in a well-ventilated environment, preferably out of doors; (4) the chamber must be well lit and have view ports that allow personnel direct observation of animals; (5) the CO flow rate should be adequate to rapidly achieve a uniform CO concentration of at least 6% after animals are placed in the chamber …; and (6) if the chamber is inside a room, CO monitors must be placed in the room to warn personnel of hazardous concentrations. It is essential that CO use be in compliance with state and federal occupational health and safety regulations."
On top of that, AVMA recommends the CO gas chamber should be regularly cleaned, maintained and inspected, flow rates monitored, animals separated by species and restrained and noise that may frighten animals is to be reduced or controlled. The AVMA never recommended use of the CO gas chamber for animals under 16 weeks of age or which might have difficulty breathing like pregnant, old, ill, or injured animals.
Then there has been the endless list of safety requirements because CO gas is dangerous, and shelter staff are at risk from CO poisoning when they load and unload or clean the gas chamber, breathing in low levels of the gas on a regular basis. Not to mention the risk of explosions such as occurred at the Iredell County and Lincoln County, North Carolina public shelters just in the past 2 years.
See what we mean about the fine print? But there’s more.
Buried in AVMA’s 2007 Policy on Euthanasia is the admission: "Reptiles, amphibians, and diving birds and mammals have a great capacity for holding their breath and anaerobic metabolism. Therefore, induction of anesthesia and time to loss of consciousness when using inhalants may be greatly prolonged. Other techniques may be more appropriate for these species."
Translation: Most animals including mammals like dogs and cats, can hold their breath and it may take a long time before they actually inhale enough CO gas to lose consciousness and they will suffer terribly in the meantime. For more on the 2007 AVMA Policy on Euthanasia….
The AVMA’s new direction is more in line with the National Animal Control Association (NACA) which in September 2010, issued the following policy statement: "NACA considers lethal injection of sodium pentobarbital, administered by competent, trained personnel, to be the only method of choice utilized for humane euthanasia of animal shelter dogs and cats."
Also, the Association of Shelter Veterinarians agrees, stating flatly that "the use of carbon monoxide for individual or mass companion animal euthanasia in shelters is unacceptable due to significant humane, operational and safety concerns…[C]arbon monoxide euthanasia should be banned in shelters."
Read the statement here by Paul Caravan, a witness to a CO gassing in North Carolina, and go here to read a number of statements from witnesses to the use of the gas chamber to kill animals.
Go here to help stop use of the gas chamber in Davidson County, North Carolina and find information about dangers to humans including reports of explosions and inspections revealingt gas chambers found to be leaking CO gas…
Find Animal Law Coalition’s 3 part series on gas chambers in North Carolina.