Brunswick County Animal Services has a new gas chamber used to euthanize their animals, but the new installation has animal rights activists up in arms.
The county says it’s the safest way to put down wild animals that could harm their shelter workers, but the Humane Society says the chamber is pure torture.
Eastern North Carolina Humane Society President Peter MacQueen says the new gas chambers at the Brunswick County Animal Shelter are an out of date method of putting animals down, a method he feels is an embarrassment to the county. “Our feeling is that the animals deserve to die in dignity, and in the most humane and kind way possible,” he said.
MacQueen says a gas chamber causes the animals to suffer a long and painful death and he believes the best method is quick lethal injection.
County officials disagree. They say gas euthanization is the only sensible way of safely handling feral or wild animals that can pose a danger to the shelter workers.
“Sixty percent of the animals we take in are ferals, and wild and have never been in a house, and you try to handle them, they get terrorized,” said Don Yousey of the Brunswick County Health Department.
The new chamber just arrived, and animal shelter staff say all they have to do is roll the crate into the chamber, and a safe amount of carbon monoxide is released inside.
“With any poisonous gas there is a risk, but we have it outdoors. We keep it ventilated, we do everything we can to keep our workers safe,” Yousey said.
The machine is equipped with a sensor that controls the amount of poison that is released in a certain amount of time.
MacQueen says he’s heard this all before. He remembers an incident in Lincoln County when a chamber blew up after it was taken over by gas. “There’s no telling how many workers have been made sick or died as a result, or long-term exposure to carbon monoxide cause it causes heart disease, it causes cancer.”
Health Department Director Don Yousey says the machine is inspected by the state and OSHA. An industrial hygienist was scheduled to inspect the machine today, to determine whether it is safe and operating properly.