I was volunteering with San Francisco’s Give a Dog a Bone program when I learned that euthanasia in other shelters wasn’t carried out the way it was here. Here, animals were given a fatal injection, and in a few minutes, took their last breath.
I never got used to the process and many, many times I disagreed with the decision to end the dog’s life. In each case, it felt like humans had failed an innocent animal. But I wasn’t employed by the shelter and I had no say in the matter. So if the dog was going to die, I wanted him to be able to do so in the comfort of my arms.
And then I read an article about a dog in Georgia who had survived the county shelter’s gas chamber. At the time, I didn’t know there are shelters that still euthanize their dogs and cats in this manner. And I had no idea how cruel and violent the method is.
Animals gasp for breath, their insides burning. They claw at the floor and throw themselves against the walls of the chamber in an attempt to get out. Sometimes it takes the dog or cat as long as 30 minutes to die. It’s terrifying and excruciating.
In the case of the Georgia dog, he was allowed to live; they didn’t try again to gas him. I guess they figured anyone who could survive such an ordeal had earned that right. And what of the millions of dogs and cats who do lose their lives this way? Is their crime simply succumbing to the agony?
The fight to eliminate this method of euthanasia will be a tough one. “Humane death” laws vary from county to county and state to state. Click here to sign a national petition, but research the laws in your local community to continue to make a difference on this issue.
If you can save the pregnant dog (above) from such a fate, I urge you to do so. Click here for more information.