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States seek to ban use of gas chamber for pet euthanasia

by Therese on April 2, 2009

in Cats, Dogs

Remember Grace, the dog who survived the gas chamber in Georgia a few years ago? She suffered for thirty minutes before someone opened the door and found her clinging to life. Sadly, many cats and dogs are killed in this very same way in many states across the country. Six states however, are trying to put an end to it.

Six states are considering proposals to ban carbon monoxide gas chamber use in animal shelters as a means of euthanasia, in response to animal rights supporters who say the process is inhumane.

Georgia, Illinois, North Carolina, New York, West Virginia and Pennsylvania have legislation pending, according to Kimberley Intino, director of the Shelter Services Program for The Humane Society of the United States. Twelve states already ban it, she says.


The new legislation is being met with some opposition from veterinary medical groups. Jane Williston, president of the North Carolina Veterinary Medical Association, acknowledges injection is the preferred method, but says there is a danger using it on aggressive feral animals.

“Dogs and cats in shelters, most often, are not of the same temperament and you are not in the same controlled environment that you are in your veterinarian hospital … there is nothing kind, gentle or stress-free about it,” she says.

The method is either legal or not referenced in state laws governing animal euthanasia in 37 states and the District of Columbia, Intino says.

Virginia became the latest state to stop using gas chambers in 2008, Intino says. More states are looking at it, she says, because “the general public, as well as the people working specifically in animal welfare, are just simply becoming more educated about carbon monoxide as a form of euthanasia.”

See USA Today for more of the story about banning the use of gas chambers to euthanize cats and dogs in animal shelters.

According to the Humane Society of the United States, these are the twelve states that currently ban the use of gas chambers:

  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • New Jersey
  • Oregon
  • Rhode Island
  • Tennessee
  • Virginia

In Georgia, the state that tried to gas Grace to death, a judge has recently issued a permanent injunction against illegal use of gas chambers. However, the Humane Association of Georgia contends there may be valid reasons to use them.

We believe there may be valid exceptions to lethal injection, such as feral animals, animals with collapsed veins, diseased rats, or a rabid fox or raccoon. Special techniques and equipment, such as squeeze cages and pre-sedation for aggressive animals can limit exceptions or exceptions could be handled by a veterinarian.

Recent statistics from the Georgia Department of Agriculture show there are 32 gas chambers in Georgia. Fourteen are “used for routine euthanasia” (4 grandfathered by continuous use and 10 in counties with populations less than 25,000), 8 still in service though not used routinely, and 10 no longer used. The high upfront cost, public opposition and possible health hazards should be seriously considered before purchasing a chamber. Officers have been killed or sickened by malfunctioning chambers, much like malfunctioning generators in homes during the winter.

Grace isn’t the only dog to survive the gas chamber. Quentin is another. The fact that both of these dogs survived makes me wonder how many others survived the ordeal. And it absolutely makes me sick to my stomach to think about the countless other cats and dogs that fought long and hard, gasping for air, before they died. The gas chamber is absolutely barbaric, and I find it appalling that only twelve states so far have banned the use of these torture chambers! I certainly hope the six that are working on it now can get the laws changed, and that others follow suit.

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Laurie April 2, 2009 at 8:16 am

For those situations when dealing with feral animals or animals that are severely diseased, I don’t understand why they could not use some type of tranquilizer gun to sedate them Then they could be euthenized in a more humanely manner.


Dejavonrinker May 1, 2010 at 3:11 pm

Great story, hooray for quentin, and please sign our petition for Texas. Thank you for bringing this story to light. There are many many of us fighting this battle for the animals, who cannot speak for themselves.


Dejavonrinker May 1, 2010 at 3:12 pm

Great story, hooray for quentin, and please sign our petition for Texas. Thank you for bringing this story to light. Denise


Jessica Davis May 1, 2010 at 11:24 pm

I can only hope that Louisiana will one day soon ban gas chambers state wide as well. Please sign this petion to close a gas chamber in Walker, Louisiana and spread the word!



Nur Aykurt May 28, 2010 at 8:08 pm

Gas chambers should be banned now. Its the worst practice ever.Sinfull and barbaric.


Ellona Bateman January 1, 2011 at 2:44 am

There are many of us that fight everyday out there sharing,posting,fostering,rescueing,and trying to save God’s furry four legged friends. I for one am glad to count myself among that group. But it’s so disheartening to lose a battle to one of these places after spending up to two weeks of endless days and nights trying to save them. It wrecks my heart when I find someone to pull or take one,only to find out that they’ve already gassed or euthenized it. Or worse yet,heartstuck one. Knowing that they could’ve been saved if only someone would grant them a stay of execution for a few hours. Why not? They do it for the prisoners on death row,why not for the animals who most likely has never done anything but had the unfortunate luck of being born into this cruel society. I for one have 23 animals in my care right now and we’re doing it all on our own. No help from the government or anyone else for that matter other than a few supporters here and there. We rescue,feed,care,and vet all of our rescues and then find permanent loving homes for them. Some we’ve had in our care for over 2 years. But we don’t pts because it takes a little longer to adopt them out. Come on now shelters,if we can do it all on our own,you can do it with all the help that you get. Save them,don’t gas them,euthenize them,or heartstick them. Just think of it this way. How are you going to answer to God for what your doing to his furry friends? Would you want that to be the reason to keep you out of heaven? “If you have men who will exculde any of God’s creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity,you will have men who will deal likewise with his fellow men.” St. Francis of Assisi.


Carol Laughlin April 26, 2011 at 9:00 pm

Horay for Quentin! I also believe they should band gas chambers for all animals. Those people that are useing them or killing the animals at all espeically a dog ever heard of “a dog is mans best friend” Just think what does dog spell backwards it spells GOD. God has given us those special animals to be our best friend and they are killing them. I personally would not want to be in their shoes when it comes time for them to go in this life.


Mary November 27, 2012 at 11:47 am

How do I find out which shelters in my state use gas chambers, I live in Minnesota. Also who do I contact in state legislation to find out what is being done to ban this inhumane cruelty in Minnesota. Any inforamtion or help that anyone may have would be greatly appreciated. Please send info to me at my e-mail address: ohalloran68@yahoo.com Thank you for your consideration.

Mary O


renee March 31, 2013 at 10:25 pm

Animals are the only innocent thing on this earth,mankind is born innocent but do not stay that way. Animals deserve better,it should be a law that all dogs and cats be spay or neutered, so there will be no animals for humans to mistreat. Mankind is the worst thing on this earth.


joanna August 1, 2013 at 2:15 am

I want this banned in all 50 States not another animal deserves to die this way.


Haydee Torres October 15, 2013 at 2:09 pm

absolutely, please get involved. People and the media have to get involved..everyone needs to be proactive to get this ban passed Nationwide! Write letters to officials, protest peacefully, contact AVMA, The Humane Society of the United States, Spca, etc.


Haydee Torres October 15, 2013 at 2:07 pm

No animal should be gassed. They sedate large animals with darts, so we can’t sedate a dog/cat? If given the right training, any animal can be euthanized humanely by injection. Healthy animals are being gassed after they are not adopted/rescued in the time allotted to them even if the shelter has space. Rowan county animal shelter does not give any extensions. The date they give them is the day they die, young, adult or senior, doesn’t matter, whether sick or healthy. This is cruel and abusive to the animals, help ban all gas chambers NATIONWIDE!!


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