Euthanasia In Shelters: Is It Humane? (by Alicia Russell)


Any pet owner has come to that dreaded point where you have to make the decision on saying goodbye to your pet. If you have ever been in the room while you say goodbye you know how it goes. In my case they got Maxx comfortable, gave him some treats, and gave him an anesthetic. After he was comfortably asleep, the injected him with the euthanasia solution. He was gone within seconds and did not suffer one bit. In 21 states euthanasia solution, sodium pentobarbital injection (EBI) is used to control the overcrowding in shelters, however in the other 29 states dogs and cats are euthanized by gas chamber. Carbon Monoxide poisoning taking up to 30 minutes to succumb to death, to fight over crowding in shelters, is that humane?

In the article, Resolution Encouraging State Ban On Gas Chamber Euthanasia In Shelters, the author briefly describes the horror of a gas chamber. Multiple animals are places in a gas chamber at one time, many of the feeling anxious and scared, from the sights, sounds, and smell. Many people think that the animals die instantly that is not the case, they all die at different speeds, some can take up to 30 minutes causing a slow panic filled, painful death.

The gas chambers not only are a bad choice for animals but it also have dangerous safety risks to humans. Sherri Welch states in the article, Humane Society CEO Search Reignites Euthanasia Debate that the shelters with gas chambers for euthanizing have a higher chance of a carbon monoxide leak, explosions and other accidents causing injury or even death for shelter personnel.

Many shelters have argued that it would be too expensive. Hector Chavez was quoted in the article, New Animal Law Is Welcome But, at the Outset, Expensive, saying that to transition to the injections it had already cost $1,000 to license 3 employees to administer the injections, and they would have to add a workroom floor to keep the drug safely. That is a small price to pay when you are injecting hundreds to thousands of dogs a month. Per animal it is cheaper, the price drops from $4.98 for the gas chambers to about $2.49 for the injections. $2 adds up so in the end of the year switching the injections actually saves the shelter money.

In a perfect world shelters wouldn’t need to euthanize animals, however while there is still an epidemic of stray and homeless pets and the lack of room for these animals there will always be shelters euthanizing. What we can change is how they do it. The animals are already broken, having no home or family, never feeling loved. The last thing we as humans should do are making them suffer anymore than they should. We need to give them a quick painless death.

I dream of the day every animal will have a home and a family; until that day comes I will continue to fight for the welfare of animals next to They are actively trying to get all shelters to become no-kill shelters in the case this happened; the discussion between gas chambers and EBI would be numb. Please join the fight with us. We are the animal’s voice.



“Animal Advocates Seek End to Carbon Monoxide Euthanasia for Shelter Animals in Texas.” PR Newswire 25 Feb. 2013. Academic OneFile. Web. 12 June 2014.  This article was one of the real eye openers for me. States that Texas alone euthanizes more than 100,000 dogs and cats and 30 shelters in the state of Texas still use carbon monoxide to euthanize them. Stating also that the cost of EBI is less than that of carbon monoxide.

Rocha, Alana. “New Animal Law Is Welcome But, at the Outset, Expensive.” New York Times 31 May 2013: A17A(L). Academic OneFile. Web. 12 June 2014.  This was the follow up article on the fight to ban gas chambers for euthanizing dogs and cats. This showed many shelters that fought to keep the gas chambers claiming it was cheaper but after that was proven to be wrong it was realized it was just more convenient for them.

“RESOLUTION ENCOURAGING STATE BANS ON GAS CHAMBER EUTHANASIA IN SHELTERS.” States News Service 13 May 2013. Academic OneFile. Web. 12 June 2014.  This article was basically a repeat of all the other articles I read stating how EBI is more humane and cheaper compared to Gas Chambers but this article had Representative Jim Moran, a Democrat in Virginia fighting to end the use of gas chambers.


“No-Kill Mondays Inspire Animal Shelters To End Euthanasia.” PR Newswire 23 Dec. 2013. Academic OneFile. Web. 12 June 2014.  “Humane Society CEO search reignites euthanasia debate.” Crain’s Detroit Business 10 Mar. 2014: 0001. General OneFile. Web. 12 June 2014.


The Public Writing 


Dear Governor John Kitzhaber,

First off, I would like to thank you for taking the time out of your very busy schedule to read my letter.

Recently for a class I discovered the horrible thing that animal shelters were still doing, euthanizing by gas chamber. Now being the Governor of Oregon you understand the love we have for our animals here in this beautiful state. My heart was breaking with every article I read about shelters euthanizing by gas chambers, imagining the panic the dogs and cats were going through, wondering what they ever did to deserve this. Now I know Oregon shelters do not do this, however we still have shelters that do euthanize to over crowding.

I am urging you to fight against this. We in Oregon should start encouraging spay and neutering more having more options to lower income families that are easy to find instead of having to search for hours for an unclear answer. If we as a state were able to promote this an lower the amount of animals going into the shelter it is possible in the near future that we could end euthanizing in shelters due to over crowding.

I appreciate you taking the time to read this letter and even considering a couple ideas I through out to you. I am hoping as a fellow Oregonian you would be willing to jump onboard making thing more accessible.

Warm Wishes,


Alicia Russell


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