Eliminate Euthanasia by Gas Chamber

Spencer Lo

At an animal control facility in Florence, Alabama, where stray, unwanted animals are routinely euthanized, a young beagle named Daniel was sent to die in a gas chamber along with 17 other dogs. Amazingly (perhaps miraculously), Daniel survived the 17-minute ordeal unscathed, and has now found a permanent home with the help of animal rescue groups. His story recently featured on Anderson Cooper’s show, bringing national attention to the fact that, while Daniel’s survival is unique, his situation was not. Between six and eight million animals are brought to animals shelters each year, and with nowhere to go, upwards of four million are euthanized, many by carbon monoxide or carbon dioxide inhalation. 18 states have outlawed some forms of gassing, while only 9 have prohibited euthanasia by gassing altogether.

As documented by The Humane Society, euthanasia by gas inhalation can be unreliable and cause prolonged suffering and great distress. Death is not always quick, as it can take up to 25-30 minutes to end an animal’s life, and loss of consciousness and brain function occurs only after vital organs are shut down. Further, where multiple animals are gassed at the same time, feelings of panic and excitability can cause fights to break out. A far more effective, and painless, method of causing death is euthanasia by injection (EBI), using sodium pentobarbital, which results in clinical death within 2 to 5 minutes, and loss of consciousness within 3 to 5 seconds. Clearly, then, EBI is more humane, and yet it still isn’t legally mandated in most states.   Continue reading

Animal Drop Boxes and the Economic Recession

Katy Steere

Dog left in drop box in Sacramento, CA

As more and more Americans face poverty and homelessness during this economic recession, their pets are being left at after hours shelter drop boxes in droves. Foreclosure pets make up a great number of the pets surrendered every day. After hours drop boxes are outdoor kennels attached to shelters where people can anonymously abandon their animals when shelters are closed. Animal drop boxes are controversial because states with animal cruelty laws in place have provisions making animal abandonment illegal.

Elkhart, Indiana is one of the hardest hit recession areas in the United States. Kari Huus of MSNBC.com writes, “Each day at five, staff members of the Humane Society of Elkhart County close the animal shelter and hold a meeting. And each day, like clockwork, they begin hearing a “thump, thump, thump” from outside.” Many of the animals being dropped off are malnourished, diseased and beyond the point of rehabilitation. The shelter is seeing an influx of 600 to 700 animals each month while the shelter only has space for 266 animals. Huus writes, “Since October 2008, the shelter has handled 5,783 animals, 42 percent of which were abandoned anonymously.” When the drop box becomes full overnight, the staff finds animals tied up outside the shelter as well as animals roaming the parking lot. Because of this overwhelming influx of animals, the shelter is euthanizing two to three times the number of animals it would in an average month. The Elkhart Humane Society is desperate for donations to help them deal with this incredible influx.  Continue reading

Oreo’s Law

Christopher Cuomo

In June 2009, I was deeply saddened to learn that a fellow New Yorker threw his pit bull (Oreo) off the roof of a building. Despite the horrendous act I was happy to hear that the owner was being prosecuted and Oreo was recovering. In November 2009, after Oreo had made a full physical recovery the A.S.P.C.A decided to euthanize him. The A.S.P.C.A claimed that Oreo displayed aggressiveness. As was explained in Ms. Gallo’s November 16th post, the A.S.P.C.A made the decision to kill Oreo despite the fact there had been many offers from animal rescue groups and No Kill shelters to take Oreo and save him from being killed.  Once the announcement was made public the A.S.P.C.A received emails, phone calls, and an online petition was even launched in an attempt to save Oreo.   

All was done in vain.  What was once an act of animal cruelty by one became an act of complicity. The A.S.P.C.A had the resources available to give Oreo a good life, yet they chose the easy way out and ended his life.

Oreo may be memorialized and his death may have had a purpose after all. Not only did he defy all the odds by surviving the fall, but his death may be the catalyst needed to save thousands of animals each year. Two New York State legislators introduced a bill named “Oreo’s Law”.  This law would make it illegal for a shelter in New York State to kill an animal if a rescue group or No Kill shelter is willing to save the animal’s life.  “Oreo’s Law” is modeled after a similar California law.   Continue reading

Euthanasia is NOT the Answer

Elisa D’Ortenzio

As the year 2009 comes to an end, over 4 million dogs and cats will have been euthanized in the United States alone due to over population in animal shelters. Dogs and cats that do not end up living in shelters often live as strays on the street. Television commercials such as those from the ASPCA which focus on promoting animal adoption and ending violent animal cruelty, often fail to educate the public as to the fate of the millions of animals that live in the shelters if they are not adopted.  Continue reading

Another Shelter Fiasco

Angela Garrone

A three week investigation has been ongoing at the Memphis Animal Shelter in Memphis, Tennessee after authorities discovered deplorable conditions at the shelter.  Sheriff’s deputies raided the facility on October 27 2009 after receiving numerous reports of abuse at the shelter. (photo gallery from the shelter raid here)  Complaints about the conditions of the shelter have been thrown around at least since 2007.  In 2007, the state found that the shelter was out of compliance with the minimum standards established by the Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners.  The state found various violations of record keeping concerning drug usage for euthanizations.

Memphis City Mayor A. C. Wharton fired  Memphis Animal Services supervisor Ernest Alexander nine days after law enforcement authorities raided and closed the shelter. (see City’s search warrant here)  Alexander previously oversaw a shelter in Albuquerque, NM until 2008 when he was hired after a nationwide search by former Mayor Willie Herenton.  Herenton was searching for a new administrator in response to long term complaints about the shelter from animal rights activists.  Three other shelter employees remain suspended with pay until the city finishes their investigation.

Continue reading

Some Thoughts On a Shelter Closing

Several posts on this blawg have commented on the troubling reality underlying the legal status of animals, which is that so long as animals remain property under the law, any legal advances are only made in terms of animals’ relationships to humans, not for the sake of any inherent right to autonomy. I return to the issue briefly today because of an article I read Tuesday. It seems Room For One More, a no-kill shelter in nearby Hopatcong, NJ, no longer has room for any. Because they have lost their lease, the shelter must close down, and may euthanize some of the animals when it closes. Michelle Stymacks, the shelter’s operator, says, “Unfortunately, euthanizing them is a possibility. If we can’t place them, that’s the only other option.”

In a sadistic way, I would love to see NJ DYFS close, and have Christine Mozes report that while she hopes to find homes for all of the children, most of the adoption agencies are full, so they will have to resort to euthanization, as they have no room for them. On a less cynical note, the legal implications surrounding this article frustrate me. First of all, I personally think that there should be more safeguards in the law for non-profits when it comes to leases. Keeping this to animal concerns, this closure illustrates how baffling property status over animals can be. If you own a dog and decide to kill him via lethal injection administered by a veterinarian, the law will not stop you. If you find someone else’s dog on the street and decide to kill her via lethal injection, you will face legal consequences, but, as always, only to the extent that you have damaged the property rights of the dog’s owner. If you find that same dog on the street, however, and cannot readily ascertain an owner, the killing is once again permitted, no matter how many dogs and cats you kill. This is how we view shelters in this country.

Now I don’t mean to fully villify Room For One More; they have brought in animals from far worse conditions, and have done what they can to rehabilitate them. I also understand that when the money dries up, there is nowhere else to go, and releasing all of the animals into a world where they could not find food or shelter is cruel. I also believe that Stymacks is fully aware of the consequences of this action. What I do mean to villify is the way that even non-profit no-kill shelters must operate under the “animals as property” paradigm, and that therefore rescued animals are no more than found, abandoned property. Again, for all those who claim that this is a result of over-population of companion animals, that it is a necessary hardship, I ask you to think about how you would react if this were the same situation featuring abandoned infants.

–Seth Victor