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VICTORY for CATS in OHIO!

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IT'S A VICTORY for CATS in Ohio! For 12 years the Ohio SPCA led the battle to end inhumane killing at Ohio county animal shelters. Medina County, Ohio commissioners have agreed to turn over responsibility for caring for stray cats to the Medina County SPCA. Cats will no longer be housed or gassed at the Medina County Animal Shelter. Ohio is now on the back stretch with just 3 counties still using gas chambers.

The gas chamber, considered too cruel an execution in many states for our worse criminals, is used to kill cats in thirty states; the very same cats that are suppose to be protected by law under each states animal anti-cruelty laws. In 2009 the American Humane Association launched an intensive legislative initiative to ban gas chambers in animal shelters and will continue in this work until the gassing ends. Many states have passed laws prohibiting the use of carbon dioxide and monoxide to kill shelter animals due to the trauma and stress it causes both shelter workers, volunteers and the animals fully aware of their fate as they are dragged to the execution box.

Cats are piled in a small confined gas chamber box with dogs of all sizes and breeds without sedation where they slowly suffocate to death. Live cats and dogs are piled on top of dead ones and they all fight each other for the last breath of air. This goes completely against the intended purpose of county animal control facilities. They were established as a safe humane place for lost and stray animals, giving owners an opportunity to reunite with their beloved companion and strays an opportunity to find a good home.

A North Carolina animal control officer forced to gas animals for a living illustrates the severe trauma caused to both staff and animals. "...When I go to the collect the dogs they are so excited to see me, that they jump up to kiss me and think they are going to play. I put them in the rolling cage and take them to the gas chamber. They know. They just know. They can smell the death.. They can smell the fear. They start whimpering the second I put them in the box. The boss tells me to squeeze in as many as I can to save on gas. He watches. He knows I hate him, he knows I hate my job. I do as I'm told. He watches until all the dogs, and cats (thrown in together) are fighting and screaming. The sounds is very muffled to me because of my ear plugs. He walks out, I turn the gas on, and walk out....In 40 minutes, I have to go back and unload the dead animals. I pray that none survived, which happens when I over stuff the chamber. I pull them out with thick gloves, and the smell of carbon monoxide makes me sick. So does the vomit and blood, and all the bowel movements. I pull them out, put them in plastic bags. They are in heaven now, I tell myself. I then start cleaning up the mess, the mess, that YOU PEOPLE are creating by not spay or neutering your animals. The mess that YOU PEOPLE are creating by not demanding that a vet come in and do this humanely. You ARE THE TAXPAYERS...DEMAND that this practice STOP! Don't call me the monster, the devil, the gasser...call the politicians, the shelter directors, and the county people the devil. Heck, call the governor, tell him to make it stop... I will take sleeping pills tonight to drown out the screams I heard in the past, before I discovered the ear plugs."

If the law would mandate spay and neuter and halt all intentional breeding until the overwhelming companion animal overpopulation is brought under control there would be no gas chambers. There is nothing humane about killing healthy adoptable animals. If it is not humane it is not euthanasia, it's cruelty, the very cruelty outlawed in Georgia and other states under the animal Anti-Cruelty codes. The gas chamber is pure and simple torture to both animals and the people employed to care for them. Georgia law explicitly bans all forms of gassing for all types of animals in shelters (including ferals and wildlife). However these laws are NOT strictly enforced.

In Georgia each county/municipality have jurisdiction over animal control practices and therefore have the option to enforce these laws or look the other way. Your local animal control must deny using the gas chamber since it is banned here in Georgia. If they still have a gas chamber on the premises they are most likely still using the gas chamber for some animals like feral cats. Feral cats shouldn't even enter the equation. They have no owners to be reunited with. They are not adoptable stray companion pets. Feral cats are wild animals that pose a threat to staff forced to care for and execute them.

We make a mockery of the entire animal welfare movement when we do not take a stand and insist that these anti-cruelty laws are enforced in our county, that NO cat gets the gas chamber for any reason, and that feral and stray cats receive the very humane protections that they are entitled by law. It is not enough to simply have these laws on the books if no one holds our own county run tax payer funded animal control accountable to follow these laws.

The American Veterinary Medical Association and The Humane Society of the United States concur that an intravenous injection of sodium phenobarbital administered by a trained professional is the kindest, most compassionate method of killing shelter cats. They recommend the following:

1. Contact your local shelter to determine its euthanasia practice. If the shelter uses gas for ANY animal politely ask the shelter director and your county commissioners to transition to EBI. They may claim that the gas chamber is safer for staff when executing feral cats and other wild life. This is an excuse. T.N.R. (trap, neuter, release) practitioners humanely sedate feral cats without injury to staff or cat.

2. Some animal control facilities claim that gassing is more affordable than EBI. Not true. The American Humane Association commissioned a study comparing the cost of EBI and gas chambers. The study concluded that EBI is less costly to communities. Using data from an animal sheltering organization, the study shows that the cost to use carbon monoxide poisoning is $4.98 per animal. The cost to use EBI, however, is only $2.29 per animal.

3. Start a petition to send to your county commissioners, calling for your local shelter to transition to EBI. Involve the local media to drum up additional community support for a transition. Talk to one of American Humane Association’s EBI trainers to gain a better understanding of the technique and the training that is available to euthanasia technicians. Contact training@americanhumane.org.

4. Share American Humane Association’s resources with the shelter, and let shelter management know that American Humane Association is available as a resource in transitioning to EBI. Contact your state legislators -- particularly if you are in a county that uses the gas chamber -- and gauge their interest in sponsoring a gas chamber ban bill. Contact American Humane Association’s Office of Public Policy at info@americanhumane.org if you need assistance.

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