Update June 5, 2010: Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue has announed that he has signed HB 788 into law!
This means by January 1, 2011, no county or city in the state can use carbon monoxide gas chambers to kill shelter animals.
For more information on this new law, its history and the counties and cities affected by it, read Animal Law Coalition’s report below.
Update April 29, 2010: With less than 3 hours left in the legislative session, the Georgia Senate voted 37-8 to approve a House amendment to H.B. 788 that moved the effective date of the law from January 1, 2013 to Dec. 31, 2010! The House passed the amendment earlier in the day by a vote of 115-36!
The bill would make it illegal to use CO gas to kill shelter dogs and cats after Dec. 31, 2010.
For more on this landmark legislation, read Animal Law Coalition’s reports below.
Update April 28, 2010: The Georgia legislature meets one more day this session, this Thursday, April 29! The Georgia bill to ban gas chambers, H.B. 788, must pass then or proponents will be forced to start over with a new bill in 2011.
After H.B. 788 was approved last week by the Georgia Senate with an amendment that delayed the effective date until Jan. 1, 2013, House of Representatives sponsor Rep. Tom Knox manuevered the bill into a conference committee where that amendment was changed so that the effective date would be Dec. 31, 2010.
Now, however, both the state House and Senate must approve the amended version of H.B. 788! All in one day….
Update April 21, 2010: By a vote of 38-9 the Georgia Senate has approved the committee substitute version of H.B. 788 which will close the remaining carbon monoxide gas chambers in public shelters in Georgia.
Unfortunately, there was also a floor amendment that pushed the effective date of the bill to 2013. Though a number of senators voiced opposition to the amendment, no separate vote was taken on it. An objection is necessary for a separate vote to defeat an amendment. Objections were made but not timely and were not allowed.
The bill now goes back to the state House of Representatives for approval of the bill as amended by the Senate.
Update April 1: The Georgia Senate’s Regulated Industries and Utilities Committee voted to pass H.B. 788 to close the loopholes that allow some counties and cities to use CO gas chambers to kill shelter animals. 94% of Georgia’s public shelters use lethal injection to euthanize animals.
There was one amendment to the bill: Intracardial injection known as heartstick will be allowed as long as the animal is comatose or unconscious.
The bill now goes to the Senate Rules Committee which is responsible for scheduling a vote before the full Senate.
On March 16, 2010, the Georgia House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly, 115-46, to pass H.B. 788 which would ban use of the remaining CO gas chambers to kill shelter animals in Georgia.
The House sponsor, Georgia state Rep. Tom Knox, showed his fellow representatives photos of dogs killed in a CO gas chamber. It was obvious they had suffered, attacking each other as they died.
Rep. Knox said a CO gas chambers is more like "a contraption. It is not humane…. What happens is that when several dogs and several cats are put into the container, like a dark closet and gas is turned on…they don’t go to sleep real quick….For those of you who have dogs, you understand…if one gets excited ….they might all get excited and start fighting…They attack each other in there….It’s pretty frightening to hear it."
Rep. Knox concluded, "Lethal injection is better…cheaper and more humane…It’s working well in all those jurisdictions that use it….And it will work well in the remaining jurisdictions [in Georgia that haven’t been required to use it]".
Reps. Gene Maddox and Sean Jerguson spoke most vehemently in opposition to the bill, claiming, contrary to cost studies, that lethal injection will be more costly. Rep. Maddox asked his colleagues, "Am I not a veterinarian?" He said, "This is a bad bill…The carbon monoxide chamber is the most humane method [of killing shelter animals]." Even the American Veterinary Medical Association doesn’t agree, citing lethal injection, done properly, as the preferred method of euthanasia.
Here is a list of counties or cities still using the outmoded gas chamber in Georgia:
- 1. Ashburn, City of (in Turner County; no county facility; chamber housed in City of Ashburn.)
- 2. Cobb County
- 3. Butts County Animal Control
- 4.Â Cordele, City of (In Crisp County)
- 5. Cuthbert, City of (In Randolph County; no county facility; chamber housed in City of Cuthbert.)
- 6. Haralson County Animal Shelter
- 7. Hawkinsville, City of (In Pulaski County; no county facility.
- 8. Henry County Animal Control
- 9. Lakeland, City of (In Lanier County; no county facility.)
- 10. Mitchell County Animal Control
- 11. Vienna, City of Animal Shelter (in Dooly County; no county facility)
For more on this bill, read Animal Law Coalition’s report below and go to Georgia Voters for Animal Welfare.
H.B. 788 as passed by the House of Representatives
Under this version of H.B. 788, carbon monoxide gas chambers along with decompression chambers and use of exhaust from gasoline engines and would not be allowed as means to kill shelter animals. Intracardial injections could not be used unless the animal is unconscious.
The bill is named Grace’s Law for a dog that survived a ghastly CO gassing in Liberty County.
In almost all cases animals would be required to be euthanized by a lethal injection of sodium pentobarbitol. There would be an exception for field emergencies. Also, another substance could be substituted for sodium pentobarbital, but it must be regarded as humane and approved by the American Veterinary Medical Association. None of the neuromuscular blocking agents would be allowed as substitutes, however. (Those agents render the animal immobile but fully conscious and aware of what is happening.)
Only a trained person could perform euthanasia and animals could not be left unattended during this process.
H.B. 788 would also regulate the injections. Intravenous injection would be preferred with intraperitoneal available a second choice. The least preferred method would be intracardial injection or heartstick which could only be used if the animal is unconscious.
More About the bill
The bill, H.B. 788, would essentially shut the loopholes that allow several Georgia counties and cities to continue to use animal gas chambers. The bill would also codify the current GA Dept. of Agriculture regulation prohibiting heartstick.
It would mandate humane lethal injection of sodium pentobarbital as the only means of euthanasia allowed throughout the state of Georgia except in field emergencies.
In its 2007 Euthanasia report the American Veterinary Medical Association stated euthanasia by injection of sodium pentobarbital or EBI is the preferred method for shelters to use in euthanizing animals. For more information, read the attached information sheet that you can also download and send to Georgia legislators.
If most Georgia counties and cities can use EBI, why can’t they all? An attached study based on North Carolina shelters proves EBI is less expensive and also doesn’t carry the risk of danger to workers. So why keep costly gas chambers?