- Associated Press - Tuesday, August 26, 2014

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - One of four remaining Kansas communities that still use gas chambers to euthanize animals has pulled the plug on its chamber and will instead train its animal control officer to perform injection-based euthanasia.

Nationwide only about 50 shelters still use gas chambers, which are far cheaper than injections in putting animals down but have been condemned by animal rights groups as inhumane, said Midge Grinstead, director of the Humane Society branch in Kansas.

Earlier this month, after The Topeka Capital-Journal (https://bit.ly/1qJDkhI ) published a story about the ongoing use of gas chambers in the state, the city of Eureka stopped using that method. City administrator Ian Martell said switching methods has been a goal for quite some time.

“I guess we just needed someone to come in and say, You might as well do that,’” he said.

Of the three other Kansas communities still use gas chambers, Humboldt hasn’t used its chamber since last year and Norton didn’t respond to interview requests. Chanute, which put down 110 cats and dogs last year in its gas chamber, is looking into alternatives only because local officials believe changes in state law and regulations will make them switch eventually, anyway.

“There are currently no concerns with using the gas chamber for euthanasia,” Chanute’s interim Police Chief Raymond Hale wrote in an emailed response to the newspaper. “The city has not wanted to get rid of the chamber for several reasons. The cost is less than injection, and it is easier and more humane for wild, feral and aggressive animals.”

Opponents say gas chambers don’t provide true euthanasia, which most agencies define as a pain-free and stress-free death. Forcing animals into a box or room and shooting poisonous gas at them, they say, doesn’t make for the most calming end to a life.

But it costs $37.50 to have a veterinarian put down a single feral cat, said Lt. Jeff Collins in Humboldt, while one bottle of carbon monoxide can be used 200 times and costs $13.

Eureka’s decision to stop using its gas chamber hasn’t drawn much response from the public, but that was to be expected, Martell said.

“People are pretty silent unless they’re outraged,” Martell said. “No news is good news, in that respect. I haven’t heard any complaints, that’s for sure.”

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Information from: The Topeka (Kan.) Capital-Journal, https://www.cjonline.com


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