Update September 16, 2013: The Michigan Senate has unanimously passed Grant’s Law, S.B. 354, a bill that would prohibit use of gas chambers to kill animals in shelters. It’s onto the Michigan House of Representatives!
Four animal shelters in Michigan still use the archaic and cruel gas chamber to kill animals. S.B. 354 would require all shelters to use lethal injection as the means of euthanasia.
The bill is named for Grant, pictured here, a sweet dog killed in a gas chamber at St. Joseph County Animal Control in 2008. The county has since discontinued the use of the chamber.
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 known if the AVMA will adopt these changes to its euthanasia policies; until now the AVMA has found "acceptable" use of carbon monoxide gas chambers for animals. For more on this…..)
Regardless, the National Animal Control Association (NACA) issued the following policy statement in September, 2010: "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.
For more information on Grant’s Bills and how you can help pass them, visit michigandersforshelterpets.org/grants-bill/