Death Row Dogs—Gassing Shelters, and Euthanasia Rates in America’s Shelters

Carol Bowman-Henderson contacted me one year ago, on April 20, 2008, after she had seen one of my anti-gassing videos on YouTube.

“Can you help me?” She asked.

She quickly began to send me her spectacular photographs, some of which were so horrendous, with regard to animal cruelty, that I have never used them.

After numerous discussions about her situation in Clovis, and after she witnessed a gassing, it was clear to me that Carol was determined to do whatever she needed to get the gassing banned.

One evening, after experiencing an overwhelming bout of depression, she wrote the poem “Through Their Eyes” which I used in our first video together. The result was astounding.

When Carol first started, she wanted to ban gassing in her town of Clovis—and her efforts lead to a state-wide ban.

We stayed in close contact, sometimes talking several times a day, when eventually, there seemed to be no progress made whatsoever. Her frustration level mounted, yet she never gave up.

There were times when I heard sadness, anger, and desperation in her voice, but her tenacity always prevailed.

Even as she described how her own community rejected her, and neighbors scorned her for her involvement and persistence, she plowed forward. Of course, it hurt her feelings, for she had hoped others would join her, but her focus on saving the animals was far greater than her focus on herself.

Even I backed off a bit, from time to time. Probably because I didn’t believe that the two of us could really create change – after all, who are we?

Many times I felt that I had done all I could do to help her. I wondered if we’d ever really be successful. I had hoped that publishing several videos on YouTube would increase awareness, but wondered if one day, something or someone would take our war against gassing to the next level. And it did. That someone was Yvette Dobbie.

Carol was elated when she described to me how she felt on April 6, 2009 when she witnessed Governor Bill Richardson sign the bill to ban gassing animals in New Mexico.

But even as she shared with me her moment of joy, her sentence quickly rolled into the needs for spay & neutering programs. It appears that Carol’s work is never done.

If any of you ever believe that you can’t possibly make a difference with whatever issue you are faced with – you are wrong. Just ask Carol.

Carol, my friend, your talents combined with your tenacity are a gift. Thank God you shared it with all of us, and the animals.

You can join Carol on Facebook on her Fan Page called, “Alliance to Stop the Gassing of Cats, Dogs, and Wildlife”
http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=104978720987&ref=share

What I have learned from this experience is that when city pounds have a gas chamber accessible to them, there isn’t necessarily a veterinarian overseeing the euthanasia of the animals. While gassing is supposed to be humane, it isn’t when shelter operators stuff several animals in a small box at once. While the animals wait, they panic, as more and more animals are added into the tight space. This creates chaos, and the animals do not die in a peaceful manner.

There are some pounds who follow strict protocol with regard to gassing, and in those pounds, the death of an animal is considered humane. However, without a veterinarian present, it is in my opinion that the pound is lacking a gatekeeper.

A gatekeeper would prevent perfectly healthy animals from being euthanized, but approve the euthanasia of the terminally-ill, elderly, severely injured, or potentially dangerous animals. Without a veterinarian/gatekeeper making those judgment calls, there is no one to force the pound to increase their adoption efforts, solicit volunteer fosters, or work with rescuers in their areas.

Regardless, euthanasia by lethal injection is no more costly than carbon monoxide poisoning. Which way would you rather go, if you had a choice? It’s really a no-brainer.

A Must Read: San Antonio, Texas 2004, Death by the Pound

More Stuff:

http://www.digtriad.com/news/mostpopular/article.aspx?storyid=82860&provide%20r=top

http://law.slu.edu/organizations/animalLaw/

Euthanasia Facts:

http://www.animalsheltering.org/resource_library/search_results.html?librarytopic=euthanasia

http://www.animalsheltering.org/resource_library/policies_and_guidelines/appropriate_use_of_carbon_monoxide.html

http://www.animalsheltering.org/resource_library/policies_and_guidelines/statement_on_euthanasia.html

Author, Unknown:

Yes, I Gas Dogs and Cats for a Living. I’m an Animal Control officer in a very small town in central North Carolina. I’m in my mid thirties, and have been working for the town in different positions since high school.

There is not much work here, and working for the county provides good pay and benefits for a person like me without a higher education. I’m the person you all write about how horrible I am.

I’m the one that gasses the dogs and cats and makes them suffer. I’m the one that pulls their dead corpses out smelling of Carbon Monoxide and throws them into green plastic bags. But I’m also the one that hates my job and hates what I have to do.

First off, all you people out there that judge me, don’t. God is judging me, and I know I’m going to Hell. Yes, I’m going to hell. I wont lie, it’s despicable, cold, cruel and I feel like a serial killer. I’m not all to blame, if the law would mandate spay and neuter, lots of these dogs and cats wouldn’t be here for me to gas. I’m the devil, I know it, but I want you people to see that there is another side to me, the devil Gas Chamber man. The shelter usually gasses on Friday morning.

Friday’s are the day that most people look forward to, this is the day that I hate, and wish that time will stand still on Thursday night. Thursday night, late, after nobody’s around, my friend and I go through a fast food line, and buy 50 dollars worth of cheeseburgers and fries, and chicken. I’m not allowed to feed the dogs on Thursday, for I’m told that they will make a mess in the gas chamber, and why waste the food.

So, Thursday night, with the lights still closed, I go into the saddest room that anyone can every imagine, and let all the doomed dogs out out their cages.

I have never been bit, and in all my years doing this, the dogs have never fought over the food. My buddy and I, open each wrapper of cheeseburger and chicken sandwich, and feed them to the skinny, starving dogs.

They swallow the food so fast, that I don’t believe they even taste it. There tails are wagging, and some don’t even go for the food, they roll on their backs wanting a scratch on their bellies. They start running, jumping and kissing me and my buddy.

They go back to their food, and come back to us. All their eyes are on us with such trust and hope, and their tails wag so fast, that I have come out with black and blues on my thighs.. They devour the food, then it’s time for them to devour some love and peace. My buddy and I sit down on the dirty, pee stained concrete floor, and we let the dogs jump on us. They lick us, they put their butts in the air to play, and they play with each other. Some lick each other, but most are glued on me and my buddy.

I look into the eyes of each dog. I give each dog a name. They will not die without a name. I give each dog 5 minutes of unconditional love and touch. I talk to them, and tell them that I’m so sorry that tomorrow they will die a gruesome, long, torturous death at the hands of me in the gas chamber. Some tilt their heads to try to understand. I tell them, that they will be in a better place, and I beg them not to hate me. I tell them that I know I’m going to hell, but they will all be playing with all the dogs and cats in heaven.

After about 30 minutes, I take each dog individually, into their feces filled concrete jail cell, and pet them and scratch them under their chins. Some give me their paw, and I just want to die. I just want to die. I close the jail cell on each dog, and ask them to forgive me. As my buddy and I are walking out, we watch as every dog is smiling at us and them don’t even move their heads. They will sleep, with a full belly, and a false sense of security.

As we walk out of the doomed dog room, my buddy and I go to the cat room.
We take our box, and put the very friendly kittens and pregnant cats in our box. The shelter does not keep tabs on the cats, like they do the dogs.

As I hand pick which cats are going to make it out, I feel like I’m playing God, deciding whose going to live and die.

We take the cats into my truck, and put them on blankets in the back.

Usually, as soon as we start to drive away, there are purring cats sitting on our necks or rubbing against us.

My buddy and I take our one way two hour trip to a county that is very wealthy and they use injection to kill animals.

We go to exclusive neighborhoods, and let one or two cats out at a time.

They don’t want to run, they want to stay with us. We shoo them away, which makes me feel sad.

I tell them that these rich people will adopt them, and if worse comes to worse and they do get put down, they will be put down with a painless needle being cradled by a loving veterinarian. After the last cat is free, we drive back to our town.

It’s about 5 in the morning now, about two hours until I have to gas my best friends.

I go home, take a shower, take my 4 anti-anxiety pills and drive to work.. I don’t eat, I can’t eat. It’s now time, to put these animals in the gas chamber. I put my ear plugs in, and when I go to the collect the dogs, the dogs 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.

I walk out as fast as I can. I walk into the bathroom, and I take a pin and draw blood from my hand. Why? The pain and blood takes my brain off of what I just did. In 40 minutes, I have to go back and unload the dead animals. I pray that none survived, which happens when I overstuff 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!

So, 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.

As usual, I will take sleeping pills tonight to drown out the screams I heard in the past, before I discovered the ear plugs. I will jump and twitch in my sleep, and I believe I’m starting to hallucinate.

This is my life. Don’t judge me. Believe me, I judge myself enough.

~Author unknown

List generated August, 2008
by HSUS

Note:  States that do not allow carbon monoxide may still allow older pounds and shelters to use that method, until new shelters are rebuilt or new methods are adopted.

States that allow carbon monoxide Gassing:
Alabama
Alaska
Colorado
Illinois
Kansas
Kentucky
Louisiana
Massachusetts
Missouri
New York
North Carolina
Oklahoma
Pennsylvania
Rhode Island
South Carolina
Texas
West Virginia
Wyoming

States that do not allow gassing:
Arizona
Arkansas
California
Delaware
Florida
Georgia
Maine
Maryland
New Jersey
New Mexico
Oregon
Tennessee

Information Unavailable:
North Dakota
Puerto Rico
Wisconsin

States that do not Mention Gassing either way in their laws:
Connecticut
District of Columbia
Hawaii
Idaho
Indiana
Iowa
Michigan
Minnesota
Mississippi
Montana
Nebraska
Nevada
New Hampshire
Ohio
South Dakota
Utah
Vermont
Virginia
Washington

Yes, Legal 17
No, Banned 12
Not Mentioned in Law 20
Unavailable 3

More TDL Articles

National list of No-Kill Shelters

Email us for more information: TheDogLiberator@gmail.com







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