Updated Thu, Jan 26, 2012 1:39 pm
Athens County’s process of euthanizing animals using carbon monoxide gas has come under fire from local activist groups.
According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, 60 percent of the five to seven million animals who enter community shelters nationwide are euthanized every year.
Athens County Animal Advocates member Nicole Kleinas says she believes euthanasia by gas is inhumane and causes unnecessary suffering to the animal. “The carbon monoxide method generally takes a lot longer. The thing that really got me is that while in the gassing chamber their organs are shutting down while they are still conscious,” said Kleinas. “Lethal injection only takes a few minutes at the most, while the gas chamber can take up to 30 minutes and even more.”
Athens County Animal Advocates (ACAA) organized to petition the county commissioners to draft and pass legislation that would ban gassing and opt for euthanasia by injection.
Sarah Robles, Co-founder of ACAA, says she realizes shelter employees could have a difficult time with the implications of euthanasia by injection. “It makes them have more personal contact and no one wants to put down a healthy dog,” said Robles. “But at the same time they’re in that line of work, so it’s their responsibility to take care of the dogs and treat them humanely no matter the cost.”
In addition to the end of the gas chamber, the group is pushing the formation of a citizens’ oversight committee to supervise accountability and transparency in the shelter.
Athens County Dog Shelter employees declined to comment for this story.
Robles believes the county is avoiding publicity, “It’s not pretty. It’s not something they’d want to publicize. It’s not something to be proud of for our county.”
The ACAA is working in conjunction with the Athens Humane Society on their campaign to end the gassing of shelter dogs.