Gas chambers in Michigan

gas chambers

Meet Grant…..

Named for a friendly dog who, despite adoption efforts by rescuers, was killed in a Michigan animal control shelter’s gas chamber in 2008, “Grant’s Bill”  (S.B. 354)  would require that all Michigan shelters euthanize animals via an injection of sodium pentobarbital (referred to as EBI, for euthanasia by injection). EBI is accepted by all national veterinary and humane organizations as the most humane method currently available for euthanasia. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has recently stated that they no longer recommend gas for routine euthanasia of cats & dogs. Also, the Michigan Department of Agriculture looks to the AVMA guidelines as the authority on humane euthanasia & expects all individuals administering euthanasia to follow AVMA guidelines. When EBI is performed properly by trained personnel, EBI is painless to the animal, and begins to take effect within seconds. The picture to the left is Grant, this picture was taken at St. Joseph County Animal control, Michigan in 2008. (St. Joseph Cty. Animal control recently discontinued use of their gas chamber December 2011). As of Jan, 2016 there are currently no operating gas chambers in Michigan shelters. However, there is nothing preventing a shelter from resuming their use at any time. We must ensure that all Michigan shelter pets receive the same humane treatment if euthanasia is necessary, and prohibit the use of gas chambers statewide

Gas chambers are ineffective and inefficient. The gas chamber cannot be humanely used for the majority of animals that require euthanasia, including the old, very young, sick, pregnant, or injured. Even under the best of circumstances, animals can only be gassed one at a time, and the 25 or more minutes it can take to end that animal’s life can be agonizing. At least one Michigan shelter has indicated that sometimes more than one animal is put into the chamber.

Gas chambers are more expensive.Recent studies have proven that EBI, including the costs of permitting and acquiring euthanasia drugs, actually costs less than using a gas chamber.

Gas chambers pose a danger to shelter staff. Carbon monoxide is highly toxic and is one of the leading causes of accidental poisoning in the United States. Animal shelter workers have been injured and even killed by malfunctioning gas chambers.

Training and funding for EBI is readily available. Of the four Michigan shelters still using gas chambers, all four already have an EBI back-up system and/or are trained in EBI procedures. Michigan law permits trained shelter technicians to directly administer euthanasia drugs without supervision by a veterinarian, and a majority of shelters are licensed to receive EBI drugs directly. Grants are available to help Michigan shelters with initial EBI set-up and training, and with gas chamber buyback and disposal. Statewide regulation is needed to ensure that all Michigan pets receive the same humane treatment if euthanasia is necessary.