GA Gov Signs Gas Chambers Ban into Law!

gas chambers

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. 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 Warner Robins gas chamberAbout 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? 

Go here for Georgia’s current Humane Euthanasia Act and here for a look at litigation undertaken previously to force compliance.

25 thoughts on “GA Gov Signs Gas Chambers Ban into Law!”


  2. How thoses peoples can sleep ,they are capable to look them self in the miror ??????

  3. Now that the knowledge is known, lets make a difference. Post on FB, Twitter, etc. Print out and post in your local stores and give to your friends. Knowledge is power! Call get involved.

  4. I just called to check the status of the bill. The Rules Committee still have no released it for a full house vote. Please keep calling. We need this bill here in Georgia!

  5. We are supposed to be taking care of these pets that would give their lives for us!!How is it possible to kill an animal so cruelly?? the only thing they have done wrong is that no one wanted them!! That’s NOT a crime!! That is a SHAME!! A SHAME on us, Humans, who are supposed to be so intelligent. HA! Intelligent only when it comes to money.,My only wish to have money is to be able to help as many animals as I could.

  6. How could anyone kill these pets so cruelly? We are supposed to be taking care of them!! They would give their lives for us, to protect us.What must they be thinking as they die? What did I do wrong?? They didn’t do anything wrong!,they just didn’t have anyone that cared for them. That is NOT a CRIME!! It is a SHAME.,a Shame on us humans.,I bet if someone investigated these killings, they would find that it was all about money (somehow these places make money when they kill instead of caring for the pets) THIS HAS TO STOP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  7. Murdering healthy wonderful adoptable lovable pets is horrific enough. Its about time they stopped the gas chamber. Geez, are we Hitler to the poor dogs and cats?
    Now lets get cheap and free spay and neuter and start making sure all shelter workers really care about the pets, or they get replaced with NO kill Advocates, let rescues help more, promote fostering and stop murderng so many tens of thousands?

  8. Reps. Gene Maddox and Sean Jerguson are absolute IDIOTS. They had the most opposition to the bill? When it comes time for THEM to die, I’ll be happy to show them to the chamber and release the gas – since it’s so HUMANE and all!!!

  9. It is ridiculous that there is a debate on banning gas chambers for killing innocent animals. They DO NOT deserve to die in such a cruel and inhumane way. I ask any one of you that has any compassion to ban the use of gas chambers immediately.
    We as humans have a responsiblilty to care for these animals. They DO NOT and HAVE NOT deserved this!!!!!!

  10. If Dr. Maddox is YOUR veterinarian, i recommend finding a new one.
    Any Vet who believes that gassing animals is the right thing, the “humane” thing to do, should lose his license to practice. Be afraid, be VERY afraid.

  11. We adopted two kitties out of Hinesville. They are safe and are loved. Unfortunately 33 others were destroyed by the powers that be, against the wishes of the staff.

    Georgia and many Southern states need to be more caring. It is easier to find homes for these pets, but some people are just cruel and want to kill living things.

  12. Are we in Natzi Germany? That was done with Humans to, if any one cares to remember. We all need to care about living thing, also the higher ups in in each state and Washington DC.
    The cruelty needs to be stoped in any County and State of the USA, for that matter in the world.
    Grace’s Law HB 788 needs the vote of YES, without any if or buts, I urge you to be kind.

  13. All of the higher ups need to be present when the Animals are placed in the gas chamber and stay there until it is all over. The sreaming, the crying and the fear of the animals you never will forget.
    Grace’s Law HB 788 needs to be past everywere in the USA.

  14. I am glad Dr. Maddox was not my veternarian. Scary to think he’s practicing and performing this on animals!! I agree with you wholeheartedly Gina. When it’s his time, let Dr. Kevorkian euthanize him in the same manner!!

  15. No pet should die at all…Why? $ Such a sad state of affairs that our Govt. and citizens allow this to happen. Everyone should just say NO to killing and it would stop!

  16. It really saddens me to see what us humans do to this perfect creation…it’s pretty shameful. They love us when they are beaten and starved, used to earn money in mills for greed, stuffed in cages, put on death row! FOR WHAT? and they still have a little spirit to go on. They survive the worst torture that we inflict on them. Then someone kind enough comes along and that very wronged animal greets them with a tail wag, a lick…that is unconditional, that is a best friend.
    They are perfect we are not. I think we should learn from them, we would sure have a much better world. Treating these animals in such ways, intracardial injection or gassing is torture. I don’t think any of us want to die that way? why would an animal. They love…they feel. It is incomprehensible!! Anyone willing to do these barbaric practices should NOT be working with animals.
    Please stop…

  17. Someone will need to go to Cobb Co shelter and physically pull out their gas chamber before they’ll probably stop using it.

    A court order, and a contempt charge from the judge, still hasn’t stopped Ag from giving the thumbs up for them to continue using theirs. I would look for Ag to try to get around this illegal ban as well. They seem to think the laws don’t apply to their office.

    Tommy Irvin is leaving office this year though – hopefully, the new Commissioner will clean house within that office – and replace the current staff with people more competent and law abiding.

  18. Hi–

    that was very well said, tho, it more than saddens me. I feel a total outrage for the morons who do use the unethical, cruel practices.

  19. Why does the DOA pretend to protect animals when all they want is money from people to get licensed. They approve puppy mills full of dying and dead animals. They even testify in court FOR the abusers. They should be locked up. A lot of people do their job by calling DOA for help when they see blatant abuse and DOA sweeps it under the rug. They notify abusers when there will be a “surprise inspection” by animal control. The list goes on and on. I’d like to throw them in a gas chamber and turn it on and let them choke and die slowly. Oh but would that be considered inhumane? If it’s good enough for “man’s best friend”, it should be good enough for them.

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