Northern Utah animal shelter latest to ban gas chamber euthanasia

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Dogs are displayed for adoption at the Stockton Animal Shelter in Stockton, Calif., Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2008. In the heart of foreclosure country, abandoned animals are becoming a given, much like destroyed houses and fallen neighborhoods. In Stockton, Modesto and other nearby cities with some of the highest foreclosure rates in the nation, animal shelters and rescue groups are inundated. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

LINDON, Utah (ABC4) – An animal shelter in northern Utah will no longer use gas chamber euthanasia on animals at its facility. This means just one shelter remains in the Beehive State that uses this method to put down animals.

The Utah Animal Rights Coalition (UARC) says the North Utah Valley Animal Shelter director Tug Gettling announced the end of gas chamber euthanasia during a public meeting of the board on Thursday. The group says this comes after members and supporters made phone calls, sent e-mails, and attended protests to ban the method.

Humane organizations like the American Veterinary Medical Association have endorsed euthanasia by injection as the more humane and safer option. According to UARC, North Utah Valley Animal Shelter was one of only four shelters in the U.S. still using euthanasia by carbon monoxide.

“This is a day for celebration. Following the announcement at North Utah Valley Animal Shelter, the use of gas chambers to kill animals in shelters is a nearly extinct practice, nationwide,” says Jeremy Beckham, Executive Director of UARC. “UARC applauds North Utah Valley Animal Shelter and its director Tug Gettling for making this step forward and modernizing its facility to only use the most humane and safe methods of euthanasia.”

UARC says South Utah Valley Animal Shelter in Spanish Fork is now the only shelter in Utah euthanizing animals by gas chamber. For nine consecutive legislative sessions, Utah has considered bills to ban gas chamber euthanasia entirely, but the legislation never made it to the governor’s desk for signature into law. During an Orem City Council meeting back on June 15, UARC unfurled a long, printed list of names from their petition that’s garnered tens of thousands of signatures. Currently, 26 states plus the District of Columbia now explicitly prohibit the practice by statute.

2019 report from the Humane Society of Utah says euthanasia by injection is comparable in cost, faster, painless, and safer for personnel compared to gas chamber euthanasia. The carbon monoxide gas used in the gas chambers can be extremely hazardous, toxic, and explosive in high concentrations, the report continues.

A group of Taylorsville residents pushed the city council in 2019 to stop contracting animal services with West Valley City, whose shelter was still performing euthanasia by gas chamber.

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