A bill being discussed in the state legislature could change the way stray or unwanted animals are put down.
Now, shelters can use lethal injection or a gas chamber, but with a newly proposed bill, state lawmakers may make the decision.
If passed, House Bill 6 would outlaw the use of gas chambers to put down animals, a process more than 30 counties in the state still use, including Brunswick.
County Health Director Don Yousey oversees the shelter. He said the use of the gas chamber is a necessary evil. “Those animals that you can handle safely we put those all down with a needle we don’t use the chamber. It’s the ones we can’t handle safely when we use the chamber.”
Each year, the Brunswick County Shelter takes in around 6,000 strays or unwanted pets. Last year, animal control officials there had to euthanize more than 5,000 animals, around 2,200 by injection and 2,900 in the gas chamber.
The issue has been debated for years. Animal rights advocates like Janie Withers said passing this bill has taken long enough. “It’s the humane thing to do. It’s been around for six years; this bill in some form has been around for six years. It’s time to get it finished and done.”
Yousey said if it were up to him, no animals would ever have to be euthanized, but it starts with the responsibility of the public.
If the bill becomes law, gas chambers would have to be dismantled by the year 2011.