Your Opinion: Pet dies in shelter gas chamber

Dear Editor:

Recently there has been concern with policy and procedure at local animal shelters. The Eldon shelter’s incident of two dogs of the opposite sex being put into the same cage and cruelly separated while mating, followed by euthanasia, has drawn both media attention and investigation.

Unknown to many residents of Jefferson City, the new Jefferson City Animal Shelter is putting animals to death using CO2 (a gas chamber). I know this first-hand because my pet was put to death in this manner within an hour after arrival, therefore allowing me no chance to claim her.

This incident happened when a neighbor who was trying to keep two feral cats from starving during the winter months set a trap obtained from the shelter. My cat was caught and picked up by an animal control officer. The neighbor actually told the officer this was not one of the two she was concerned about and this cat looked like one that belonged to a neighbor. Therefore, it was known before she was taken to the shelter she was not feral.

The officer put her into the gas chamber which according to the Executive Director of the Missouri Alliance for Animal Legislation is in violation of state regulation.

I strongly feel the method of CO2 needs to be addressed by the taxpayers and generous donors to the Jefferson City Animal Shelter.

Taken from the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) website: Slow acting — death by asphyxia — acts as an irritant to the mucous membranes. Animals may experience pain and distress prior to loss of consciousness, associated with breathlessness, from increased concentrations of CO2 in the blood and acidosis. Young animals (four months) are particularly resistant to hypoxia and may take longer to die. WSPA therefore considers this to be an unacceptable method for the euthanasia of dogs and cats.

According to staff, there is no room or facility at the new animal shelter to hold questionable feral animals until a positive verdict can be reached. Because cats are being trapped quite frequently, I would think a quarantine room would have been in the final plans before the shelter was built. The concern for pets being unnecessarily put to death would be eliminated if such a space had been provided.

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