Another gas chamber at an animal shelter is banished to history, with a dozen more to go

By on February 20, 2020 with 0 Comments

The euthanasia of homeless companion animals in gas chambers sounds archaic and is inhumane, but the practice is still prevalent in four states—Ohio, Missouri, Utah and Wyoming—where there are fewer than a dozen such chambers in operation.

That’s still too many. Since 2013, the Humane Society of the United States has made it our mission to dismantle every gas chamber in the country. We have helped fund, with incentive grants, the demolition of more than 75 chambers–that’s two-thirds of the total number operating nationwide since we began this work. And this month, we helped one more animal shelter, in West Plains, Missouri, with a financial grant so it could relegate its gas chamber to history. This is the fourth chamber we have closed down in the state so far.

Death in a gas chamber can be painful and excruciating. The animals are placed in the small, dark box, and they may remain conscious for several minutes, terrified and trying desperately to find a way out. Shelters sometimes place multiple animals in the box, despite guidelines that state only one animal should be in the gas chamber at a time, which can lead to more stress and panic for the animals. They may begin convulsing before they lose consciousness, and death can be especially slow to come for animals who are very young or old or sick.

This is no way for any animal to face the end of his or her life. There have even been rare cases of animals surviving the chamber, only to end up alive in a landfill.

This month, we helped one more animal shelter, in West Plains, Missouri, with a financial grant so it could relegate its gas chamber to history. This is the fourth chamber we have closed down in the state so far.

Gas chambers are also more expensive than the humane alternative–euthanasia by injection; they pose risk of injury and even death to shelter staff, and they have been condemned for routine shelter euthanasia by the American Veterinary Medical Association, the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association and every other national animal welfare organization.

It is clear that gas chambers have no place in animal shelters, and we have attacked the problem methodically. In addition to working with shelters and issuing grants to close down chambers, our state directors have taken the fight to their statehouses. Although 46 states no longer use gas chambers, 32 states do not have laws banning them. There’s now a bill in the Ohio Senate that would ban gas chambers (the state still has one operating gas chamber) and we will be putting our might behind passing it.

Lawmakers in Utah (which has six gas chambers, although not all are operational) and Wyoming (which has four operating gas chambers) are considering similar language. We expect bills to be introduced there over the coming year.

Vermont does not have any gas chambers, but this year a bill in the state’s House of Delegates would close a loophole in state law that still allows for their use, thus aligning the law with existing practices of local animal shelters.

Most Americans see cats and dogs as family members, and there is growing momentum nationwide to reduce pet homelessness and work toward higher adoption rates. The HSUS has been at the forefront of the movement, through programs like the Shelter Pet Project, a public awareness campaign that urges would-be adopters to make shelters their first choice when adding a pet to their family; our Shelter Ally Project, which pairs struggling shelters with more successful peers to offer mentorship and save more lives beyond their own facilities; and our Pets For Life program, which helps keep pets with loving families in underresourced areas.

Through our Puppy Friendly Pet Stores program we are helping pet stores partner with local shelters and rescue groups to increase homeless pet adoption and end the problem of puppy mills.

Lawmakers too are moving to recognize companion animals who end up in shelters. Six states, including Ohio, Colorado, California, Georgia, Illinois and Tennessee have designated shelter pets as their state pets. Florida, Kentucky and Virginia will likely do the same this year.

But honoring shelter pets should also come with a commitment to ensure that they are treated with compassion during every stage of their journey, and especially at the end of life. While we recognize that there will always be a need to end the suffering of animals who are experiencing untreatable and severe medical and behavioral challenges, the least we can do is offer the animals a painless death, not the horror of a gas chamber. We congratulate West Plains on taking the important step of eliminating its chamber. Our work to close down gas chambers and reduce pet homelessness will continue full-steam ahead in coming days.

Undercover investigation of Maryland wildlife killing contests reveals cruelty, indifference to animal suffering

By on February 19, 2020 with 38 Comments
Undercover investigation of Maryland wildlife killing contests reveals cruelty, indifference to animal suffering

Our latest undercover investigation of wildlife killing contests in Maryland reveals a grisly world: one where contestants use digital technology to lure animals like foxes and coyotes to their death, riddle them with bullets in a mad rush to kill the most and heaviest animals, . . . 

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BREAKING NEWS: On Congress’s orders, USDA begins restoring inspection reports for puppy mills, roadside zoos and other facilities

By on February 18, 2020 with 4 Comments
BREAKING NEWS: On Congress’s orders, USDA begins restoring inspection reports for puppy mills, roadside zoos and other facilities

Three years ago, the U.S. Department of Agriculture inexplicably blacked out records of inspections at puppy mills, roadside zoos, facilities that do invasive research on animals, walking horse shows and other operations, leaving those who use—and potentially abuse—animals in their care with little or no . . . 

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Poster children for the SAFE Act: Kill buyers fined again

By on February 14, 2020 with 16 Comments
Poster children for the SAFE Act: Kill buyers fined again

Some of the people and interests tied to cruelty to animals seem to come right from central casting. That’s going to help us succeed in our efforts to secure passage of the Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act, H.R. 961/S. 2006, to permanently ban domestic . . . 

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At SCI convention, trophy hunters rub shoulders with Donald Trump Jr. and USFWS director; undercover investigation reveals potentially illegal sales of elephant, stingray, hippo skins

By on February 12, 2020 with 24 Comments
At SCI convention, trophy hunters rub shoulders with Donald Trump Jr. and USFWS director; undercover investigation reveals potentially illegal sales of elephant, stingray, hippo skins

At the Safari Club International’s annual convention each year, wealth, privilege and power come together with a revolting goal: mowing down the world’s rarest and most beloved wildlife. This year’s event in Reno was no different. Trophy hunters heard speeches from guest of honor Donald . . . 

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Mostly plant-based Oscars signal growing American concern over cruel factory farms

By on February 11, 2020 with 2 Comments
Mostly plant-based Oscars signal growing American concern over cruel factory farms

One of the Oscars’ most memorable moments this year came with Joaquin Phoenix’s heartfelt plea about the suffering of animals raised for food. The speech, which drew concern for animals into a broader framework of social injustice, followed an A-list nod to plant-based eating from . . . 

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BREAKING NEWS: Lawsuit prompts shutdown of trophy hunters’ panel in Trump administration

By on February 10, 2020 with 28 Comments
BREAKING NEWS: Lawsuit prompts shutdown of trophy hunters’ panel in Trump administration

A panel of trophy hunters appointed by the Trump administration to advise the federal government on international wildlife trade policy has bitten the dust. Following a lawsuit filed by a coalition that included Humane Society International and the Humane Society of the United States, the . . . 

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BREAKING NEWS: Federal court throws out challenge to Maryland law ending puppy mill sales in pet stores

By on February 7, 2020 with 6 Comments
BREAKING NEWS: Federal court throws out challenge to Maryland law ending puppy mill sales in pet stores

A federal judge has dismissed a court challenge to Maryland’s landmark law prohibiting the sales of puppies and kittens in pet stores, giving animals and consumers a huge victory in the fight against puppy mills. The ruling today means the law, which went into effect . . . 

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Botswana sells 60 elephants for trophy hunts at first auction since it ended ban

By on February 7, 2020 with 34 Comments
Botswana sells 60 elephants for trophy hunts at first auction since it ended ban

Botswana today auctioned off the lives of 60 of its elephants, giving trophy hunters around the world a license to kill these gentle giants for fun. This was the first elephant auction held since the country lifted a five-year ban on such hunts last year; . . . 

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Another Petland will have to stop selling puppies and kittens after Illinois city passes anti-puppy-mill ordinance

By on February 6, 2020 with 3 Comments
Another Petland will have to stop selling puppies and kittens after Illinois city passes anti-puppy-mill ordinance

A Petland in Naperville, Illinois, will have to stop selling puppies and kittens after the city council passed an ordinance Tuesday ending such sales in pet stores. This makes Naperville the 341st locality in the United States to pass such a measure. There were Petland . . . 

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BREAKING NEWS: U.S. House approves bill to pair veterans with service dogs

By on February 5, 2020 with 52 Comments
BREAKING NEWS: U.S. House approves bill to pair veterans with service dogs

The U.S. House has just approved a bill that would expand opportunities for veterans to get involved with training and adopting service dogs, leading to better lives for both the animals and the people helping them. The PAWS for Veterans Therapy Act, H.R. 4305, will . . . 

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State of the animals under the Trump administration: a year of highs and lows

By on February 4, 2020 with 4 Comments
State of the animals under the Trump administration: a year of highs and lows

This past year has been a mixed one for animals under President Donald Trump. On the one hand we’ve seen federal agencies take steps to improve the fortunes of animals used in testing and the wild horses and burros on our public ranges, and also . . . 

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