Debate not cooling down over use of gas chamber vs. injection at new facility
When Janis Griffin learned Union County was putting a gas chamber in
its new, state-of-the-art animal shelter, she was horrified.
"Why does Union County want to kill our animals in such an inhumane
way where their deaths are frightening and prolonged?" the Monroe
resident asked in a June 15 letter to the Observer.
She demanded the county use only lethal injection, the method
preferred by the American Humane Association and other animal rights
So began a campaign to change the shelter, which is scheduled to open
Oct. 1. Not always civil, the debate has been waged in newspapers, by
e-mail and on the Internet.
Griffin's letter was posted on an animal rights activist Web site, she
said, and an online petition railing against the shelter began
circulating soon after. The petition, started by a woman in Vermont,
lists names and phone numbers of county officials and appears to have
more than 5,000 signatures.
Dr. Beth Sabin, a veterinarian who researches the subject for the
AVMA, said that while injection is a good option for someone putting
down the family dog, it isn't ideal in every case.
"There may be situations where using an inhalable agent as opposed to
an injectable agent is preferable," she said.
Hitting a vein is imperative when doing lethal injection, she said,
and when a shelter is dealing with aggressive or feral animals, "maybe
leading them into a chamber is actually better for everyone."
Other efforts are being made, meanwhile, to reduce the population of
unwanted animals in Union County. Eventually, all animals adopted out
of the new shelter will be neutered or spayed. Cathey said an
operating room has been built in the new building and he has
veterinarians willing to perform the procedures for free.
A county woman, Pat Shannon, has also organized a meeting at 7 p.m.
Sept. 13 at the Union County Farmers Market for people who want to
volunteer at the shelter's adoption program.