A viral video uploaded on April 28, 2022, over social media showed several protesters standing outside the Pleasant Grove Police Department in Utah, demanding the authorities stop a local animal shelter from the practice of dog euthanasia via a gas chamber.
The practice, which is still legal in several states, including Utah, Ohio, Wyoming, and Missouri, involves putting to sleep an animal by placing it in a small chamber where carbon monoxide is released. The procedure is said to last for 30 excruciating minutes.
Justice For Penguin
The protest began when a 3-year-old black and white Husky mix named Penguin was euthanized in early April 2022 at the North Utah Valley Animal Shelter. Heather Smith, who started the protest, was supposed to adopt Penguin but learned later that the Husky was put to sleep by shelter staff due to aggressive behavior.
Smith said that it was her mother who urged her to adopt Penguin when she saw a picture of the dog online. “My mom had a series of losses with her dog passing away three weeks prior. She fell in love with Penguin and asked me if I could get him for her,” she said.
Smith ran an animal shelter in Michigan and worked with local animal control officers to adopt the dog until she learned of its passing.
According to the director of the shelter, Penguin was sweet when it first entered the facility but later became aggressive and started to bite and attack the staff when they tried to interact with it. It was then decided that the dog was not fit to be adopted and would be euthanized.
Animal advocates claimed that the Utah shelter had promised to stop the inhumane procedure and would phase it out by June 2021. But, sadly, the advocates said it hadn’t been implemented, and that is the reason for their protest.
Animal Shelter Euthanasia
Animals are euthanized in animal shelters for a number of reasons. Foremost of which is overcrowding. Pet overpopulation is a continuing problem in the United States, where over 7 million pets are taken yearly to animal shelters.
The second is the prevention and mitigation of diseases in the shelter. No matter how clean and sanitized the shelters are, there is always the chance that an outbreak could occur.
The third is observed aggression in the dog. Animals are constantly checked for their temperament, and any signs showing anxiety and depression could lead to aggressive behaviors that may pose dangers not just to other animals but to the staff and would-be adopters as well.
Euthanasia by gas chamber has been prohibited in most states, and euthanasia by lethal injection is now the preferred practice. It is humane and less traumatic for the animals and the staff.
The reasons that gas chambers are still used are due to limited access to the drugs needed for the injection, budgetary constraints in some shelters, and even loopholes in some laws that only mention carbon monoxide as banned and leave out carbon dioxide.