Animal shelter in Missouri gets rid of gas chamber

Posted at 4:47 PM, May 25, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-25 17:48:35-04

MOBERLY, Mo. (AP) -- An animal shelter in central Missouri has officially ended its use of a gas chamber to euthanize animals.

   The city of Moberly dismantled and discarded its gas chamber on Wednesday in exchange for a $3,000 grant from the Humane Society of the United States that will fund training and other resources, the Columbia Missourian reported.

   The Humane Society said Missouri is among four states with operational gas chambers in animal shelters. The chambers are normally used to euthanize wildlife and feral animals, but they have also been used to euthanize pets.

   Moberly Animal Control director Tasha Koeven said the chamber in the local shelter hadn't been used since 2015, but that its presence strained the shelter's relationship with the community, which is about 35 miles north of Columbia.

   "People just basically degraded the shelter because we had a chamber even though we hadn't used it," Koeven said. "We had a lot of people bashing the shelter saying, `If it's still there, there's still a chance."'

   Koeven said the device was last used to put down a dog because the shelter was over capacity. She said it was an unpleasant memory, noting that the dog grasped for air before collapsing and didn't die for about 10 minutes.

   Amanda Good, director of the Humane Society's Missouri chapter, said using the chambers is inhumane and can prolong animals' deaths.

   Good recommended lethal injection by a veterinarian or trained clinician, which is the typical method to euthanize pets in the U.S. She said the process is painless and the animal usually goes unconscious in a few seconds.

   The Humane Society will also provide shelters with education focusing on how to deal with rescues in an attempt to lower the number of animals needing to be euthanized.

   Good said attempts to legally ban gas chambers in Missouri have come up unsuccessful, so the best the Humane Society can do is help shelters end chamber use voluntarily.