Hide ‘em … chain ‘em … gas ‘em: How dogs live and die in Davidson County, N.C.
In the Davidson County town of Lexington, it’s now against the law to bring your dog to a city-sponsored function, even on a leash, or to keep your dog in your front yard, even if it’s fenced.
The Lexington City Council unanimously approved stricter controls on dogs at its Monday night meeting, all of which are effective immediately.
The measures include giving the police department the power to determine what dogs are dangerous and seize them; prohibiting dogs from attending city-sponsored public events; and requiring areas where dogs are fenced be only in backyards, 50 feet from neighboring structures and 20 feet from sidewalks.
The stricter measures stemmed from complaints from residents and an incident last year, in which an unleashed dog described as a pit bull killed a resident’s Yorkshire terrier, according to The Dispatch in Davidson County.
The new ordinance does not prohibit tethering — as long as it is in the back yard, is done without a heavy chain, and does not prevent an animal from reaching food, water or shelter.
“We require chains and tethering devices to be of a reasonable weight and length for the size of the animal to treat those animals humanely,” Lexington Police Department Capt. Mark Sink said.
Beyond that, and the fact that the city council didn’t ban any specific breeds, it’s hard to find much humanity in the new regulations.
But then again, Lexington is in Davidson County, whose commissioners last month — despite hundreds of residents showing up to encourage a much needed change — voted to continue it’s preferred method of euthanizing dogs: A gas chamber.
Of North Carolina’s 100 counties, 20 still use gas chambers to euthanize dogs and cats — despite calls from experts and the state’s governor to end the practice, which results in prolonged and agonizing deaths.
Davidson County’s gas chamber is the busiest in the state, having gassed 6,830 cats and dogs with carbon monoxide in 2010.
You can get some idea — though one can’t watch it without becoming profoundly depressed, or ill, and, warning, you might not want to — in this video, shot in Yadkin County, N.C. in the late 1990′s. Yadkin County has since switched to lethal injection.
The sheriff’s office, which runs the animal shelter, says lethal injection is being used more often. But the Davidson County Commisioners refused to approve a motion last month to end the use of the gas chamber — despite overwhelming and highly vocal community support. (No warning on this video):
They did so even as questions were being raised about its use on puppies as young as two months, and animals that might not have been held for the requisite 72-hour period before being euthanized, according to the Animal Law Coalition
They did so despite the growing consensus that lethal injection is more humane and less expensive.
They did so despite inspection reports revealing there have been numerous leaks from the chamber and/or the carbon monoxide gas cylinders, exposing workers to the gas.
They did so even though Gov. Bev Perdue has condemned the state’s use of gas chambers to kill animals in shelters:
“The thousands of stray and unwanted animals that must be euthanized each year in North Carolina deserve a peaceful death, and shelter workers deserve access to a means to end animals’ lives safely, compassionately, and with dignity. [I]…oppose… the use of gas chambers to euthanize animals in shelters. This method is inhumane, especially in light of the fact that injection … is a more humane, suitable substitute to euthanize animals.”
The use of the gas chamber really benefits only a handful of North Carolinians — namely the suppliers of the gas and the builders of the chambers, among them Ralph Houser, a veterinarian who builds and sells the chambers, gets paid again for inspecting them and gets paid again for holding workshops to train employees how to use them.
Studies by the American Humane Association place the cost of gassing an animal to death at $4.98 per animal. Killing them by lethal injection, on top of being relatively painless, or so they say, costs $2.29 per animal.
If there is one good reason for continuing to use the gas chamber — other than plumping up the bank accounts of Ralph and a handful of others – I’d like to hear it.
Until then, even when barbecue beckons, I’ll mostly avoid Lexington, because a town whose dogs are all hidden anyway, tethered in back yards and unable to socialize isn’t a healthy place, for dogs or humans.
Posted by jwoestendiek September 15th, 2011 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animal control, animal shelter, animals, back yard, cats, city council, controls, county commissioners, dangerous dogs, davidson county, death, dogs, euthanasia, gas chamber, gassing, humane, inhumane, law, lethal injection, lexington, north carolina, pets, ralph houser, restrictions, sheriff, strict, tethering