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Tag: lethal injection

Alaska shelter shoots all its animals

The animal shelter run by the town of Houston, Alaska, says its eight residents — four dogs and four cats — were just too difficult to adopt out.

So, according to police Sgt. Charlie Seidl, under orders, he shot them all.

Seidl said some of the animals had been at the city’s “Animal Protection and Safety Shelter” since November — unclaimed and unadopted.

“We stretched out as long as we could,” Seidl said. “At one point in time, we were completely full. So we were able to adopt out the animals that we could adopt out, but with these ones that were left we weren’t able to do that. And like I said, we can’t hang on to them indefinitely.”

Even in Alaska — a state with, to put it nicely, different sensibilities — the event sparked outrage.

“This is barbaric,” said shelter volunteer Evelyn Rohr. “I think there are better ways to handle it.” Rohr told the Anchorage Daily News she managed to get six or seven cats out before the culling and planned to deliver them to rescue facilities in Anchorage, about 30 miles south.

The Alaska Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (now there’s a tough job) said it would have tried to help find homes for the animals, but Houston animal control hadn’t contacted the agency.

“There are more humane ways of killing animals than taking them out and shooting them,” said Cindy Liggett, who operates Kitty and K-9 Connection animal rescue in Anchorage “We are not a poor society. We are not a backwoods community. There is a vet clinic there.”

Rohr said Mayor Roger Purcell ordered police to kill the animals after an officer at the shelter refused to do it, and police Sgt. Seidl said he carried out the shootings under the mayor’s orders.

Purcell denied issuing any such order. “Animal control keeps them for three to five days and then they’re disposed of in a legal way. But I don’t get told when they dispose of dogs,” he said. “I know our officers try really hard to find homes and we keep dogs longer than any other.”

Purcell said the city was working to have its animal control officer licensed by the state to euthanize animals by lethal injection rather than having a veterinarian do it at greater cost. He said euthanizing by gun is common in rural areas around the state.

Sally Clampitt, executive director of the Alaska SPCA, said lethal injections are for more humane than is terminating a dog’s life by gunshot. “I think that’s really horrible, frankly,” she said. “Our position is that euthanasia done by a licensed veterinarian is the preferred and most humane way.”

One state’s toll — 118,365 euthanized dogs

Michigan’s animal shelters euthanized 118,365 dogs last year — some of them in outdated gas chambers which take as long as five minutes to accomplish the ugly job. 

“In a gas chamber, the larger dogs survive for four to five minutes — terrified and choking,” said Joe Sowerby, one of many animal advocates upset by revisions to a bill that would have prohibited the gassing of dogs.

A bill to require euthanasia be administered through more humane lethal injection was proposed in the Michigan legislature, but now it appears it will be watered down, allowing the process to continue in some counties, the Detroit Free Press reports.

Dogs injected with sodium pentobarbital lose consciousness in seconds and die within minutes. The method has also been shown to be less costly.

Despite that, Assistant State Veterinarian Dr. Nancy Frank said she wouldn’t favor limiting shelters’ options because not all facilities have the training for injections.

State legislators, including two from metro Detroit, say they plan to revise — and essentially weaken — bills that, in their original versions, would have outlawed the use of gas chambers in animal shelters.

“We’ll say whenever possible you should do injections because that’s the most humane,” state Rep. Fred Miller said last week. “But if you have the training and you’ve invested in the equipment to use gas properly, that’s allowed.”

Poison gas is no longer used at animal shelters in most of Michigan, including metro Detroit. But at least 10 counties in north and west Michigan still use it, according to the Michigan Department of Agriculture.

State officials said Michigan shelters euthanized 53% of the animals brought in last year, but figures aren’t available on how many were gassed.

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