A gas chamber is one of the cruelest methods of legally killing an animal. Animals are often crammed into the small chambers, piled one on top of the other. When the chamber is then filled with poisonous carbon monoxide gas, the animals inside gasp for breath, feel searing pain in their lungs and often claw at the chamber door or throw themselves against the sides in a desperate attempt to escape.
The practice is still legal in 32 states for dogs and cats. In many states which ban it for dogs and cats—like New York and California—they allow it for other species. Indeed, if you wanted to build a gas chamber to kill animals slowly and cruelly, there was a time when HSUS was happy to show you how—their homemade gas barrels are still in use in some U.S. shelters today.
And though national groups like HSUS have since criticized gas chambers for their notorious cruelty, their professed “opposition” to gassing did not stop them from sending dogs they claimed to have rescued to a shelter that used a gas chamber to kill them. It did not stop them from coordinating the defeat of a 2011 Texas law which would have banned it. Nor did it stop them from giving the pound in Davidson County, North Carolina, an award this month as a “Shelter We Love” that also uses one, killing roughly nine out of 10 animals they take in that way including every “Pit Bull” and “Pit Bull-mix” as a matter of policy.
In fact, Davidson County not only gasses animals, they gas young and sick animals in violation of law. The N.C. Animal Welfare Administrative Code prohibits use of the gas chamber for animals that appear to be 16 weeks or younger, pregnant or near death because it takes sick, younger or older animals longer to absorb the gas, resulting in a slower death.
According to an eyewitness, shelter employees also put animals of different species in the chamber, which is also illegal. Staff put a raccoon in the gas chamber with a mother cat and her kitten in order to sadistically watch them fight before killing them:
The gas chamber has two windows, one on either side. The raccoon and the adult cat started fighting. Then they turned the gas on. The adult cat got on one corner and the raccoon got on the other, and as soon as they turned on the gas, the kitten started shaking and going into convulsions.
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This week, Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA) introduced a resolution in the U.S. House of Representatives condemning the use of the gas chamber and calling for its abolition:
I am pleased to introduce this resolution with the support of several of my constituents to bring more attention to this unnecessarily gruesome practice of using gas chambers to kill shelter animals. I am hopeful that with the continued advocacy of compassionate citizens, we can put an end to this outdated practice.
Though welcome, H.R. 736 is not binding on the states. We must outlaw the gas chamber either locally or statewide. Learn more at Rescue Five-O where you will find a model law that includes language banning the gas chamber, a guide to local political lobbying, as well as a guide to introducing, lobbying for and passing statewide legislation to get such a law passed.
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