3 vets endorse use of gas chamber

The three veterinarians who make up the Animal Shelter Advisory Committee that oversees the Jefferson City Animal Shelter (JCAS) support the use of a gas chamber at the shelter for wildlife and feral cat euthanasia.

The committee met Monday, along with Dr. Corey McCann, the shelter’s interim veterinarian; Karen Jennings, Animal Control supervisor; Lt. Randy Dampf, interim support services commander; and Drew Hilpert, city attorney. More than 20 members of the community sat in on the open meeting.

“I’m in favor of it (the gas chamber),” said Dr. Jim Crago, one of the veterinarians. “I’ve put down some of the wild animals and it’s not a good experience to euthanize by injection through a cage.

“I believe it (the gas chamber) is quick, effective and safe.”

Dr. Gregory Popp and Dr. Greg Boyer, the two other veterinarians on the committee, agreed that sometimes the gas chamber is a better euthanasia method for dangerous animals.

The chamber has been used for wildlife and feral cat euthanasia at JCAS since December 2008.

The city recently hired McCann as interim veterinarian at JCAS. He fills the shelter veterinarian position left vacant by Dr. Amanda Dykstra. Dykstra resigned from her position June 14 and was released early from her month’s notice June 27. Her resignation was due in part to her concern regarding the shelter’s use of a gas chamber to kill wildlife and feral cats and regarding disagreements between she and the animal control supervisor.

The Jefferson City Police Department, which oversees JCAS and Animal Control, announced June 9 that the gas chamber will only be used at the shelter to euthanize wildlife and feral cats when the new interim veterinarian, McCann, is not readily available for euthanasia by injection. The use of the chamber will only occur at the direction and with the authority of McCann.

McCann said at Monday’s meeting that currently the use of the gas chamber is suspended overnight unless he authorizes its use for cases of wildlife with rabies, wildlife with other diseases or for suffering wildlife.

Hilpert addressed two other issues at the meeting — that a 2009 city ordinance requires the committee to meet quarterly and requires the committee to present an annual report to the City Council.

The committee has done neither one.

Prior to Monday’s meeting, the committee hadn’t met since Aug. 21, 2012, and it has never submitted an annual report to the City Council.

Jennings said there had been committee meetings scheduled for November, April, and June, but the meetings never happened because there was no new business to discuss.

“You ought to schedule quarterly meetings to at least go through shelter reports,” Hilpert said. “That’s in the code, so we need to do it.”

He also advised the committee to present oral or written annual reports to the Council, as laid out in the 2009 city ordinance that created the committee.

The three veterinarians said they were not aware they were required to submit a report, but said they wouldn’t be a problem. Crago agreed to present a report at an upcoming City Council meeting.

Jennings also gave the JCAS report for the month of June. She said public visits to the shelter are up due to the summer months.

Monday’s meeting was not opened up for public comment, but a citizens group is forming with the goal of getting the gas chamber removed from JCAS. If you would like more information about the group or if you’d like to join, submit your name, address and phone number to stopgassingatjcas@gmail.com.

The next Animal Shelter Advisory Committee meeting is scheduled for Sept. 17.

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