Georgia state Rep. Tom Knox has introduced Grace's Law, H.B. 788, which will be considered by the House Committee on Science and Technology during the 2010 session. Under this version carbon monoxide gas chambers along with decompression chambers and use of exhaust from gasoline engines would not be allowed as ways to kill shelter animals. The bill is named Grace's Law for a dog that survived a ghastly CO gassing in Liberty County.
In almost all cases animals could only be euthanized by lethal injection or oral ingestion of sodium pentobarbitol though intracardial injection or heartstick could only be used on unconscious, heavily sedated or comatose animals. There would be an exception for field emergencies. Only a veterinarian, physician or qualified, trained person could perform euthanasia and animals could not be left unattended during this process.
The bill would also codify the current GA Dept. of Agriculture regulation prohibiting heartstick except on unconscious, heavily sedated or comatose animals.
For nearly 20 years, Georgia has banned the use of cruel methods of killing shelter animals including gas chambers in most counties and cities. This bill would simply require all counties and cities to use humane lethal injection or oral ingestion of sodium pentobarbital as the only means of euthanasia of shelter animals.
The 2007 American Veterinary Medical Association report on euthanasia states that the “preferred method” for euthanasia of animals is lethal injection by barbiturate sodium pentobarbital. For the animal, if administered properly, it is usually no different than a shot given by a veterinarian. If the animal is or becomes aggressive, it can be sedated prior to the injection. Training for lethal injection costs about $255.
Shelter workers are at risk from carbon monoxide poisoning when they load and unload or clean the gas chamber, breathing in low levels of the gas on a regular basis. Carbon monoxide gas is cumulative in the bodies of shelter workers and long-term effects may include cancer and cardiovascular diseases (1993, 2000, 2007 AVMA Euthanasia Reports.)
Old and/or non-commercial gas chambers are at greater risk of malfunctioning, exploding or leaking gas, heightening the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. Personnel charged with gassing animals and other witnesses to the procedure have described the gas chamber as torturous to animals and highly stressful to shelter workers.
Lethal injection or EBI is actually cheaper. Two studies, one done in 2000 by the Western Pennsylvania Humane Society by using an Animal Euthanasia Cost Analysis work sheet developed at Texas A&M University, and one completed in 2009 in North Carolina, both establish the cost of gassing is more than the costs associated with lethal injection.
It is not a defense to the gas chamber to say that lethal injection is just as cruel if not done properly. Any method of euthanasia must be performed properly, and proper use of gas chambers as well as lethal injection requires training. But gas chambers are dangerous to workers and cruel and inhumane to workers and animals even if used properly. The goal is to euthanize as few animals as possible, not argue over the best method of killing. But in the meantime, there is no reason to use particularly cruel, outmoded methods of killing.
Please support H.B. 788.