Did you know that some states still condone killing shelter animals in a gas chamber? Only these states have outlawed it to date:
- Banned for all animals (including ferals and wildlife): Arizona, Delaware, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Washington, and Wyoming
- Banned only for cats and dogs: Connecticut, Florida, Maine, Maryland, New Mexico, Tennessee, and Virginia
- And Georgia banned the use of carbon monoxide on shelter cats and dogs earlier this year.
It is incomprehensible to me, that in an advanced society where technological advances are achieved everyday, that some shelters use outdated and inhumane techniques like gassing, or worse … shooting. Humane options are available, such as euthanasia by injection (EBI), which is the technique performed when we must say goodbye to our own pet. While no one likes to think about adoptable and healthy shelter pets being euthanized, there are at least 10,000 pets losing their lives every day in U.S. shelters. So until that tragic reality changes (which I discuss in my upcoming book Defending the Defenseless) we must use the best process for gently and peacefully ending a life.
I have been involved in banning gas chambers in Michigan since 2008 when I first drafted the model legislation when I was Vice President of Public Policy for American Humane. The bill was filed in 2009 and came very close to passing. It passed with vast support in the House, but then encountered a block in the Senate when for the last 4 months of the session, the Senate only had 2 hearing days scheduled. Had the Senate worked for those last 4 months and given it a hearing, I have no doubt that the bill would now be law. Instead, the bill died in December 2010 with over 10,000 citizen endorsers, 120 Michigan animal shelters and rescue organizations, and 120 Michigan businesses supporting the measure. Knowing how close we came to ending the gassing practice in the last 8 shelters in Michigan still engaging in this archaic practice, I co-created Michiganders for Shelter Pets to bring together 5 powerful advocates to advance the 2011 bill and put a Michigan (not a national) face to the effort.
It was a bittersweet moment when SB 423 and SB 424, Grant’s Bills, were filed yesterday in the Michigan Senate to end gas chamber killings in Michigan shelters and by USDA Class B dealers. It is bitter because the bills are named after Grant who not given enough time at the St. Joseph Animal Control shelter in Michigan before he was gassed to death. His photo and the pleading, yet defeated, look in his eyes haunt me. It was only fitting that we named the bill after Grant and to give his short life a legacy. It is bitter because there are too many Grant’s (both cat and dog) out there that do not choose to end up at shelter and do not choose to be killed with gas. And it is bitter because in spite of overwhelming citizen and shelter support throughout Michigan, the state veterinary association has been a staunch advocate against the bill, as have other influential agencies and lobbying organizations such as the farm bureau and department of agriculture.
Earlier this month, I declared June as Positive Animal Protection Month because somedays there are too many media stories about animals being harmed. As people, this weighs on our subconscious and our instinct is to want to cause harm to those who hurt animals. It can be overwhelming at times and I know that I personally needed a break from the negativity and needed to focus only on the good that is done for animals. So the sweet part of this blog is that Grant’s Bills have been filed by Senator Rick Jones (sponsor of the 2009-10 bill) and Senator Steve Bieda (both bills listing 7 co-sponsors) and we will have until December 2012 to, once again, make Michigan a humane state for shelter cats and dogs. As humans, we are the ones who created animal control and animal protection laws, created animal shelters, created euthanasia of shelters pets, and decide who lives and dies. The least that we can do, until no more homeless pet has to be euthanized, is to give them a gentleand humane passing in the arms of a shelter worker who cares.
If you are from Michigan and want to take action, or if you are simply interested in this topic, please visit Michiganders for Shelter Pets to learn more. Bringing our voices together can truly make a difference.