By Sue Botos
Although most Ohio counties have outlawed the use of carbon monoxide to euthanize unwanted pets, four still engage in the practice.
As reported in an Oct. 2 West Life story about the visit of “Daniel the Wonder Beagle” to Magnificat High School, Ohio was named as one of the states where legislators have passed “Daniel’s Law,” which prohibits what veterinarians and other animal experts call an “inhumane” method of euthanasia.
Daniel, a beagle mix, survived the gas chamber at an Alabama shelter on Oct., 3 2011, and was adopted by trainer Joe Dwyer. The two make appearances throughout the country in support of “Daniel’s Law,” first adopted in Pennsylvania, which makes the use of gas chambers for animal euthanization illegal.
However, area animal activist “Doc” Wheeler recently contacted West Life to set the record straight. “They’re slowly closing them down one at a time, but there are no regulations,” stated Wheeler, who said that he is retired, but was “raised” in the business of animal welfare.
Wheeler said that Medina is the closest county that still uses carbon monoxide. According to information provided by the Animal Law Coalition, Carroll, Hocking and Erie counties also use this practice, while Knox County claims to use gas only on wild animals.
The Association of Shelter Veterinarians has stated that carbon monoxide should be banned from all shelters because it “fails to meet the criteria” of quick and painless euthanasia. It instead recommends pentobarbital sodium injection as being more humane. This method is used in all other Ohio counties. In addition, carbon monoxide poses a danger to shelter workers inexperienced with the operation of gas chambers.
Gassing of companion animals has been outlawed for many years in Cuyahoga County shelters thanks to the Cleveland-based Animal Welfare Society, founded in 1976 by four women who wanted to put an end to the gas chamber at the Cleveland kennel. Wheeler said that groups like this have been instrumental in shutting these facilities down county by county, but because there is no overall regulation, it’s not certain whether municipalities or even private individuals engage in the practice. (No Westshore communities engage in this practice.)
“Our project is to get this done,” Wheeler said, noting that Daniel’s Law has not even been introduced into the Ohio State Legislature. However, another anti-animal cruelty measure, called “Goddard’s Law,” named for the well-known Cleveland weatherman and animal rights activist Dick Goddard, has been introduced as HB 274.
Under Goddard’s Law, it would be a fifth-degree felony on the first offense for anyone to “knowingly cause serious physical harm to a companion animal.” Currently, a first offense is a misdemeanor, with repeat offenses labeled as felonies. The measure amends “Nitro’s Law,” which was passed earlier this year, and makes the felony crime applicable to dog rescues, boarding and training facilities.
When contacted for comment, Dwyer noted that the best way individuals can help make the gas chambers a thing of the past is to “get as many signatures as possible” to state representatives. “This will provide the person (representative) with an incentive, since many potential votes are on the line,” he said.