Ban the gas-chambers and remove Lt Michelle Starnes as Animal Control in-charge


Ban the gas-chambers and remove Lt Michelle Starnes as Animal Control in-charge

This petition made change with 10,175 supporters!
suju bala started this petition to Frank Aikmus and Union County NC Commissioners (Chairman County Commissioner) and

Union County in North Carolina is one of the richest counties in NC. They have a beautiful million dollar shelter which  opened on Oct. 1, 2006..  and a one point two million dollar budget for the year. So you may be thinking that they are No-Kill or very close to no-Kill with so much of financial support --  but you would be wrong for they not only kill around 75% of the 5683 pets impounded.. they GAS them to death in barbaric gas-chambers which is the primary mode of killing shelter-pets here.

The Union County Animal Control has been run by the Union County Sheriff Department under the command of Lt. Michelle Starnes.  Since Lt Michelle Starnes took over the shelter in 2005,  41000 animals have perished in the gas-chambers -- On assuming command she blatantly permitted the killing of pregnant and underage and aged and sick pets in the gas chambers which is illegal  --  she also permitted the killing of pets before the mandatory 72 hours hold. In 2008 The North Carolina Coalition for Humane Euthanasia (NCCHE) teamed up with the Humane Society of Union County (HSUC) to file the lawsuit -- The suit was filed  against Sheriff Cathey and UCAC Supervisor Lieutenant Michelle Starnes after a review of thousands of documents from Union County Animal Control established that UCAC was using the gas chamber to kill animals under 16 weeks of age and pregnant, sick, injured, and old animals. State law has for years clearly prohibited the use of the gas chamber to kill animals under 16 weeks of age. 

The agreement under which NCCHE and HSUC agreed to the dismissal of their suit requires Sheriff Cathey to comply with state law and the Department of Agriculture rules. It also compels the UCAC facility to "use its best efforts" to ensure that any person euthanizing animals is properly trained, in accordance with state law and any applicable rules. 

This is the link which gives info on this lawsuit --,-Kittens,-and-Pregnant-Animals/

Coming to gassing of the poor shelter-pets it is a terrible and inhumane way to take the life of innocents who have committed no crime or done any wrong -- Here's how it starts for the animals  that are about to be GASSED to death  ---  their food is withheld from them the day prior to cut down on vomiting, the morning of they are drug one by one choked by a catch pole down the long hallway to the Gassing Chamber, they fight all the way down the hallway as they smell the death, tearing at the catch pole and digging their nails in the concrete they do all they can to stop their journey down to the chamber of death with no success. They are then thrown in this chamber one by one, small and big dogs all together that have never smelt one another and all together in a horrible dark metal box, as we all know once you get many strange animals in a confined area who dont know one another fights breaks out, so as that are fending off another bite from the dog larger beside them they hear the gas turn on and start to choke. It burns their eyes, their lungs and they start to throw up, they lose control of their bile's while all the time another dog is biting them trying to fight for his life. As a witness sits outside to watch the animals die your cant ignore the screams from inside the chamber. You do hear them gagging & gasping for air, you hear them howl and beg for help, you hear them scream as if they were having their nails ripped out. It's the worst sound in the world and the last 45 minutes or longer of these precious shelter animals lives are field with total fear. So someone tell me why is it that NC feels the need to gas our animals to death? Even if you want to take the emotional aspect out of it please look at the cost ratio which is all our Legislators seem to care about so much, a "humane" injection  is cheaper than gassing, so why are they still gassing in NC and few other States? Why ?

This shelter at Union County NC continues to discourage working relationships with both the public and rescue groups. No pictures, video or information can be shared of the animals inside UCAC. As such, networking to promote pet adoptions is diminished. 

Of the 147 kennel enclosures inside this shelter only 11 are  are allotted for adoptable dogs. Make sense to you? Me either.

This is what a volunteer has to say --- " I used to volunteer there. I was allowed to take pictures, but warned that I could only share them with personal friends. I was told that it was against the rules and that I would be "fired" if I tried to share them with anyone that I didn't know personally and anyone who wasn't looking to adopt. I managed to share a few pictures of myself that *just happened* to have some of the adoptable animals in them, but I would have been fired/banned if they had found out.  I also offered to take animals to various adoption events in the area. Again, they wanted nothing to do with this.

Volunteers are there to essentially clean cages. I volunteered to "interact" with the animals, because of health problems that keep me from doing any heavy work, and spent most of my time out in the yard with dogs (though I still wound up cleaning a few kennels). I was there for almost a year and was never allowed to see any animals that weren't in the adoption area, nor take any pictures or share any info with anyone on any of the animals there (unless they were a close, personal friend looking for an animal to adopt)."

A Rescuer who was told that some shelter-babies were rescued by others says " It’s anybody’s guess what rescue took the dogs because I don’t know of any rescue that works with that shelter. Why? Because It’s not a rescue friendly shelter! Any rescue that takes dogs from there has to adopt them off the adoption floor and pay the full adoption rate. I’m not kidding. This shelter only has 11 kennels for adoptable dogs and the place is huge and I mean huge."

As per the stats of this year 2014 of the Union County AC  in this link 3371 animals were impounded up to August 2014 inclusive.. of this 2286 animals were gassed for a kill-rate of 68% as of August 2014 and 164 rescued for a rescue rate of 4.9% .. please note the local rescues are not given advance info through emails/ phone-calls of death-row dogs or any encouragement  to rescue from the shelter -- and thus the rescue percentage in this high-kill gassing shelter is a barely reaching  5 % for the year 2014 from January to August ..  shows how rescue-friendly is the management of this  "shelter"  !! 

Rescues aren't allowed to pull any animals that are scheduled to die. If an animal is scheduled to die, it is never allowed to be adopted - that is the end of the story for them. Rescues are only allowed to pull adoptable animals. If an animal is brought up to the adoption area (which is 11 runs and a few cat kennels, which are rarely full), they are kept in the adoption area until adopted or rescued. If all adoption areas are full, ALL animals coming in die until an animal is adopted and space is made. Then an animal may make it up to the adoption area IF they are deemed "adoptable" enough (ie. usually small, cute, and young).

The very few volunteers and animal rescues that are allowed to save an animal in need, are forced to follow excessively strict rules and regulations, thereby restricting rescue efforts for the animals sitting in the shelter. These rules also make it nearly impossible to find adopters or foster homes. This is also the reason the shelters kill rates are so high.

This Animal shelter employees routinely deny the public any access to see the hundreds of animals housed in the non-public portions of the shelter, means a lost pet ending up in this shelter, has very little chance of being found by the owner before it is euthanized.Local residents have complained that they were not allowed to look for their lost pets in the back of the shelter.  Only a small number of kennels are in the adoption area, while most pets are hidden in back with no hope to be saved.

Finally please look at this letter which was circulated to local rescuers recently by Diana Gallimore UCAS Volunteer Coordinator and Lt. Michelle Starnes Union County Animal Services Bureau

As you all know, we have numerous amounts of animals coming into Union County Animal Shelter. Therefore, starting on September 16th, AS A TRIAL BASIS, legitimate 501(C)3 organizations that are inspected by the state and approved by Lt. Starnes, will be allowed to come to UCAS on Mondays from 9:30 to 10:30 and Thursdays from 9:30 to 10:30 am to pull animals that are adoptable but we do not have room on the adoption floor. Rescues MUST be approved by Lt. Starnes BEFORE pulling animals from the shelter. Rescues will also need to provide a list of people who can pull animals for their organization a week prior to viewing the animals. These animals that are available for rescues to pull will have NO PULL FEE and will only receive a Rabies Vaccine for $5.00. These animals will be any breed, age and sex. There will be NO HOLDING for rescue groups to find foster homes. There will be NO EMAILING PICTURES by UCAS staff. Also, do not call, just come. We will not hold an animal for a rescue to come pick up at a later date. 

All animals will be on a first come first serve basis. Rescue groups MUST pull animals same day. Also, DO NOT BRING CAMERAS OR VIDEO RECORDERS to the shelter while viewing the dogs. If you do, you will be asked to leave and will be unable to pull animals from UCAS.

Rescues will ONLY be allowed to pull animals on Mondays from 9:30 to 10:30 am and Thursdays from 9:30 to 10:30 am. If a rescue group comes after 10:30 on either days they will NOT be allowed to pull. This will be strictly enforced.

Like I have said, this will be on a trial basis, We will let you know if it will continue thru October and so on. Thank You,

Diana Gallimore

UCAS Volunteer Coordinator


Lt. Michelle Starnes

Union County Animal Services Bureau



 Do you think this "reaching out to local rescues " worked ? 

The person that originally posted this letter stated that only 3 rescues have "taken advantage of this opportunity" and zero dogs have been rescued through this program. It was set up to fail and therefore it did. 

The use of CO chambers for killing animals is inhumane and barbaric. At one time, the gas chamber was considered an improvement over far more brutal ways of killing animals, such as drowning, shooting and beating, but that time is long past and the gas chamber has no place in a modern and humane animal shelter. Gas chamber use has been denounced as inhumane by the Association of Shelter Veterinarians, the National Animal Control Association and the American Humane Association.

At the same time, animal shelters across the country are implementing programs that increase lifesaving and reduce the need to kill healthy and treatable pets. (You can learn more about these programs at Currently more than 212 communities in the United States are saving 90 percent or more of the pets they take in, reducing the need for euthanasia mainly to pets who are irremediably suffering. In those cases, lethal injection (which is already recommended by humane and veterinary groups for sick or old animals) is a far more humane option than the gas chamber.

Lt Michelle Starnes has been requested over & over & over to get rid of the gas chamber. She will NOT let it go.

So, we request that along with incorporating progressive sheltering methods which many communities are adopting to save 90% and more pets in their shelters please see to it that the barbaric gas-chamber at Union County and the present shelter in-charge Lt Michelle Starnes who supports the gas-chamber get out of the shelter immediately -- and the lives of shelter-pets at Union County be under the care of a No-Kill shelter director and a facility free from gas chambers and cruelty in this new awakening era




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