Thursday, March 12, 2009
Did Wilkes County NC Pit Bulls Get Gassed?
One must question how a "humane society" that loves our pets can stand by silently without being outraged that the victims in the Wilkes County Dog Fighting case became the ultimate victims of animal cruelty with the systematic method used to end their lives. - Spalding Gas Chamber
Here in Georgia we face our own admissions of inhumane shortcomings, especially from those in the "ivory towers" of animal advocacy who refused to speak out against the travesty of murdering pets in the remaining Georgia counties that still use gas chambers.
From Nathan's blog....
Did Wilkes County Dogs Get Gassed?
March 9, 2009 by Nathan J. Winograd
With the uproar over the Wilkes County massacre focusing on the systematic and needless killing of the 145 dogs and puppies, and the Humane Society of the United State’s shameless defense of it, there hasn’t been a lot of commentary on the cruel way the dogs probably died. Did the Wilkes County dogs get gassed? Except for the really young puppies, according to testimony at a County Commission meeting, the answer is probably, yes.
The Wilkes County NC shelter which was the sight of the massacre is back in the news—defending the carbon monoxide gas chamber to kill animals, even as employees there have admitted that when they use carbon monoxide, it isn’t “a pretty sight, with animals scratching and trying to get out.”
Despite testimony from a veterinarian that animals put in gas chambers “endure more trauma and pain than necessary to end their lives,” the Director of the Wilkes County shelter not only defended the use of gas, but he defended shooting animals, and claimed (erroneously) that it takes upwards of five minutes after lethal injection for animals to stop breathing.
Webster’s dictionary defines euthanasia as “the act or practice of killing or permitting the death of hopelessly sick or injured individuals in a relatively painless way for reasons of mercy.” Unfortunately, in most shelter environments, animals are not solely being killed because they are hopelessly sick or injured, but rather as “population control.” In this environment, shelter killing—particularly of healthy and treatable animals—raises a host of ethical questions and dilemmas, many of which are being raised by the public in communities across the country.
At the very least, shelters who kill, particularly those which kill large numbers of animals, are obligated to ensure that employees are technically proficient, competent, skilled, compassionate, properly trained, and doing everything in their power to make sure the animals are as free from stress and anxiety as possible. The use of a gas chamber does not allow this.
A “relatively painless” death can only occur in an environment where sensitivity, compassion, and skill, combine with efforts to minimize distress and anxiety. By contrast, gas systems take time to kill—during which animals experience distress and anxiety, and can struggle to survive. They can result in animals surviving the gassing, only to suffer even more. They are designed for the ease of shelter workers, not care and compassion for the animals.
The use of such systems to kill animals is universally condemned by humane advocates and progressive shelters, and has been outlawed for dogs and cats in several states including New York and California. According to Dr. Michael Moyer, V.M.D. from the University of Pennsylvania College of Veterinary Medicine:
There is no progressive sheltering agency of any scope or stature willing to philosophically embrace gas systems for the killing of any species of animals. Sheltering is deliberately, inexorably, and philosophically moving away from mass killing as an acceptable method of dog/cat population control.
That there are technical features of one system that distinguish it from other such systems is irrelevant. Profit center analysis, head-to-head demonstrations, ease of use, load capacity—none of these are capable of overcoming the humane and philosophical objection to mechanized death at the core of those who have moved away from this technology.
In short, they should never be used. But they are in Wilkes County. And they most likely were for most of the Wilkes County dogs.
To view a video of animals being gassed and then thrown into a dumpster, click here. (Caution: this film videotaped inside a North Carolina shelter is very graphic.)
Excerpted From the Wilkes-Journal Patriot, March 9, 2009
The Wilkes County Animal Shelter’s use of carbon monoxide poisoning to euthanize dogs and cats was challenged during the “public concerns” portion of the county commissioners meeting Tuesday night.
Janice Combs said lethal injection was more humane and should be used instead. Ms. Combs said Wilkes was among the few places where carbon monoxide poisoning was still used.
Legislation proposed in the current N.C. General Assembly session bans euthanization by carbon monoxide. It requires that animals be euthanized only by lethal injection or by ingestion of sodium pentobarbital and that euthanasia be performed only by licensed veterinarians or certified euthanasia technicians.
Ms. Combs said that when she called the Wilkes Animal Shelter last year about the matter, an employee told her both methods were used there and that animals didn’t die quickly with carbon monoxide poisoning. The employee “said it wasn’t a pretty sight, with animals scratching and trying to get out,” she added…
Ms. Combs, an employee of the Town of Elkin, left a video and written materials for county officials to view. They included written statements criticizing use of carbon monoxide poisoning to euthanize animals, one signed by four veterinarians in Winston-Salem and the other by a veterinarian in Bahama (near Durham)…
Part of the statement from the four veterinarians with Ard-Vista Animal Hospital in Winston-Salem read, “Unfortunately, euthanasia by carbon monoxide gas chambers is still in use in many animal shelters due to lack of training, resources, funding or a combination of the above. Animals placed in these chambers, who may be suffering already, endure more trauma and pain than necessary to end their lives.”
Wilkes Animal Control Director Junior Simmons said in an interview this morning that opposition to carbon monoxide euthanization is based more on misinformation than fact.
Simmons said older animals with difficulty breathing and animals up to 4 months old are euthanized with lethal injection of sodium pentobarbital at the Wilkes Animal Shelter as recommended by the N.C. Department of Agriculture.
Except in cases where an animal struck by a vehicle or injured in some other way makes euthanization by gunshot more humane, he said, other animals at the shelter are euthanized by carbon monoxide.
He said three dogs of comparable size at a time typically are placed in the carbon monoxide chamber. When the gas is released, said Simmons, they become unconscious in 20 to 45 seconds and die as they stop breathing in two to five minutes. He said the length of time is about the same with lethal injection…