Congressman Jim Moran, Northern Virginia Democrat and co-chair of the Congressional Animal Protection Caucus, introduced a resolution, H. Res. 736, opposing the use of gas chambers to euthanize shelter animals. The resolution calls for states to alternatively use established injectable euthanasia drugs and ensure that appropriate training and certification in these methods is widely available.
"I am pleased to introduce this resolution with the support of several of my constituents to bring more attention to this unnecessarily gruesome practice of using gas chambers to kill shelter animals," said Rep. Moran. "I am hopeful that with the continued advocacy of compassionate citizens, we can put an end to this outdated practice."
Each year, six to eight million animals are placed into the care of local animal shelters across the country. Nearly half of these animals are euthanized because adoptive homes are not able to be found for them. Studies indicate that euthanizing shelter animals using carbon monoxide and other gases can result in prolonged suffering and distress, particularly among old, pregnant, sick or injured animals unable to readily absorb the gas.
"I think that all people who love animals will appreciate Congressman Jim Moran's leadership and commitment to helping to end the inhumane and painful use of gas chambers to kill homeless animals," said Vola Lawson, former Alexandria City Manager and for whom the City's Vola Lawson Animal Shelter is named.
Gas chambers also threaten the safety of shelter workers, having caused the death of at least one human and severely injuring several others. The more humane practice of euthanasia by injection causes animals to lose consciousness and brain function before their vital organs shut down, decreasing suffering and resulting in rapid clinical death.
"Death by gas is long, terrifying and painful, and it is unconscionable that this tactic is still being used in this country," said Debbie Marson, local animal protection advocate and volunteer for A Forever Home. "Lethal injection is more humane, more cost effective, and only takes seconds. Euthanasia, after all, means "good death.' Death by gas chamber does not meet this definition."
"Animal gas chambers, used at shelters in 32 states to euthanize healthy, adoptable, homeless dogs and cats, are cruel and inhumane," said Megan Mason of Take Action-Help Ban Animal Gas Chambers. "We are thrilled to support Congressman Moran's resolution, and we thank him for addressing this issue and giving hope to all the people fighting daily to end the use of animal gas chambers."
Laws determining euthanasia procedures for shelter animals are determined on a state-by-state basis, with several states responding to public concerns by outlawing gas chambers in recent years. Following the enactment of legislation in 2008 supported by former Governor Tim Kaine, Virginia is currently one of 18 states that prohibit the use of gas chambers.
Moran is a longtime advocate for animal welfare issues. He serves as the co-chair of the Congressional Animal Protection Caucus. Last Congress, Moran championed the "Prevention of Interstate Commerce in Animal Crush Videos Act of 2010" and the "Truth in Fur Labeling Act," both of which became law. For these successful efforts, Rep. Moran was named the Humane Legislator of the Year by the US Humane Society. This year Moran introduced the Traveling Exotic Animals Protection Act to restrict the use of exotic, non-domestic animals in traveling shows.