If you ever had a
dog "put to sleep," because of age, illness or even behavior,
chances are the procedure was conducted by your veterinarian,
someone known to the dog. In the presence of a family member or a
compassionate health tech the dog went to sleep, then died a quiet
death with dignity, as it should be. The atmosphere was not fraught
with apprehension, fear or strange odors. The presence of someone
known to the dog encouraged trust and a sense of security; it made a
difference between a humane death and one not quite humane.
stressful environment of animal shelters, it is not the lethal
injection the dogs fight but the body language of people who have
been forced to kill too many times. In the presence of detached
strangers, surrounded by the odors of disinfectant and death,
listening to the sounds of dying animals, your dog will be put to
death. Its body will be tossed into a barrel of dead animals then
held in a freezer until the disposal truck arrives to load the
bodies. Your dog's new home will be at the rendering plant. However,
death by lethal injection is still the most benevolent means of
killing unwanted, abandoned animals. When a Chamber is used (many
shelters and humane societies continue to use the killing machine to
lessen emotional stress on human workers), your dog is killed by
inhaling a lethal gas. The gas must reach a certain concentration in
the lungs before it can be effective which takes time. Anxiety and
fear are triggered by:
odors that linger in uncleaned Chambers.
can be irritating.
The flow of
gas entering the Chamber makes considerable noise, causing fear and
The type and
amount of inhalant may prolong death.
The repair and
condition of the Chamber and the number of dogs killed together are
all responsible for the degree of agitation the dog suffers before
neonatal animals are resistant to all inhalants and take a long time
to die in chambers. Puppies of one week of age have survived in
Chambers for as long as 14 minutes.
The chamber is
a very impersonal metal box with different forms of gas available to
be pumped inside as killing agents. According to a January, 1995
report from the AVMA Panel on Euthanasia, all of the following gases
are in use and are legal:
Dioxide: Odorless and heavier than air, it takes 1-2 minutes for a
dog to reach a state of unconsciousness. The advantages are its
cheap, nonflammable and kills. The disadvantage of using this gas is
because it is heavier than air, if the Chamber is not properly
filled, tall and/or climbing dogs can avoid the gas and survive.
"This appears to be very stressful to the animals." They must be
killed all over again but second time around they know what is
Argon (Ar): These gases are odorless, nonflammable and are effective
in killing. In studies using N2 at a 98.5% concentration, dogs
became unconscious within 76 seconds. However, all dogs
hyperventilated until they reached unconsciousness. While in an
unconscious state, the dogs vocalized, gasped, convulsed and had
muscular tremors. They were left in the Chamber for 5 minutes and
all dogs died. Advantages: Both gases are easily available.
Disadvantages: It is distressful in some species.
Monoxide: Colorless, odorless, it combines with hemoglobin and
prevents the red cells from taking on oxygen, causing death by
suffocation. Since we cannot ask the dogs what they felt when
inhaling this gas, the report lists the human symptoms: headache,
dizziness, weakness in the early stages. As the oxygen is decreased
in the red cells, the human felt, ringing of the ears, loss of
vision, nausea, progressive depression, confusion and collapse.
Convulsions and muscular spasms accompany unconsciousness. In
killing animals with carbon monoxide, the AVMA suggests a well lit
Chamber with viewports to watch to be certain the animals are dying.
of killing dogs in some areas is electrocution with alternating
current. The electrocution causes cardiac fibrillation which induces
death after 10-30 seconds. It is recommended the animal be
unconscious before electrocution because of "violent extension and
stiffening of the limbs, head and neck." However, the two-step
process of producing a state of unconsciousness before electrocution
takes more time and money. Straight electrocution is preferred.
communities continue to sanction the use of shooting of dogs as a
means of disposing of unwanted pets. We can only pray these animals
are killed by someone with good shooting skills.
Ahhh, but you
believe your dog will be adopted from that shelter--you are taking
an awful chance by assuming a home waits for your dog. YOU were that
home. You made a commitment to that dog, or so the dog thought when
you took the best years of its life. Now, what are you giving in
THE TRUTH ABOUT WHAT HAPPENS IN SHELTERS ALL OVER THE COUNTRY--YES!
TO AKITAS AS WELL!!
© 1994 Barbara