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Your Opinion: Alternatives to animal shelter gas chamber

Dear Editor:

When an organization is comfortable with current procedures, change can be very difficult. It can be challenging to keep an open mind to accept or even consider change and to look for alternative solutions.

The use of the gas chamber at the Jefferson City Animal Shelter (JCAS) has been one of these challenges. Instead of looking at alternatives, Dr. Crago appears to be comfortable in defending the shelter’s use. When asked if there is a way to tell if an animal is feral, his response was, “No.”

In an attempt to generate discussion and evaluation of alternatives to the gas chamber, I offer these facts:

There is a way to tell if an animal is feral. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) shares the results of an extensive research study on social vs. un-socialized cats. http://www.aspcapro.org/blog/2013/06/27/research-update-so-cat-feral-or-what

I agree staff safety is important and the animal should be euthanized without experiencing undue stress or suffering. Manufactured cages are available that will allow the transfer of an animal from a trap directly to a cage without human contact. After being placed in this cage, a lever can gently push the animal to the back of the cage for evaluation. Euthanasia by injection can also be administered in this cage without physically touching the animal.

With the use of these cages, large city shelters in Missouri operate without gas chambers. One shelter brings in approximately four times the animals, as does JCAS. More than one half of the cats brought in are found not to be feral and are returned safely home, or put up for adoption.

Most shelters do not take in wildlife. They use the expertise of the Missouri Department of Conservation. As Rex Martensen, supervisor of the wildlife damage control program stated, removal of wildlife and wildlife euthanasia are the last resort.

I would like to commend Jackie Fischer and Jennifer Tergin of ‘Wild Things’ for their efforts in making positive change in the feral cat population over the past three years. I encourage all concerned citizens to contact your council member to endorse their efforts to create a humane solution for feral and stray cats in our community.

The capital city of Missouri should be an icon for how shelters in our state comply with humane policy and procedure. All living beings deserve to be treated humanely, in life and in death.