Position Statement

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Gassing of Shelter Animals

Euthanizing shelter animals by carbon monoxide or carbon dioxide is inhumane to animals and harmful to humans

American Humane believes that euthanizing shelter animals by carbon monoxide or carbon dioxide is inhumane to the animal and harmful to humans. American Humane considers euthanasia by injection (EBI) to be the only acceptable and humane means of euthanasia for all shelter animals.

Most shelter workers wish to hold and comfort an animal in its final moments of life. In contrast, even with vigilant oversight, euthanizing dogs and cats by means of a carbon monoxide or carbon dioxide gas chamber is inhumane and is demoralizing to the shelter workers. Such outdated and cruel practices also create public outcry and demean the very purpose of an animal shelter.

A Michigan gas chamber

It is a national tragedy that 3 to 4 million shelter animals must be euthanized every year. Until a solution is reached, the final moments for these animals must be humane.

Banning Gas Chambers: A Fight You Can Help Us Win

There are a number of states still allow the gassing of animals. Therefore, starting in 2009, American Humane launched an initiative to ban gas chambers in animal shelters and will continue in this work until the gassing ends.

To help our efforts, American Humane commissioned a study comparing the cost of EBI and gas chambers that proves EBI is less costly to communities. Using data from an animal sheltering organization, the study showed that the cost to use carbon monoxide poisoning is $4.98 per animal. The cost to use EBI, however, is only $2.29 per animal. See the 2009 EBI cost study.

What Can You Do?

If you live in a state that still allows gas chamber euthanasia, you can do the following:

  • Contact your local shelter to determine its euthanasia practice. If the shelter uses gas, politely ask the shelter director and your county commissioners to transition to EBI.
  • Start a petition to send to your county commissioners, calling for your local shelter to transition to EBI.
  • Involve the local media to drum up additional community support for a transition.
  • Share American Humane’s resources with the shelter, and let shelter management know that American Humane is available as a resource in transitioning to EBI.
  • Contact your state legislators — particularly if you are in a county that uses the gas chamber — and gauge their interest in sponsoring a gas chamber ban bill. Contact American Humane at [email protected] if you need assistance.