By ERIN MCCARTHY on 01/09/2012
The Athens County Commissioners are drafting a policy that makes lethal injection the preferred method of euthanizing aggressive and unwanted dogs at the Athens County Dog Shelter.The shelter currently uses carbon monoxide gas chambers to euthanize dogs, a practice that has come under public scrutiny over the last several months.
“There has been a fair amount of opposition to the current practice,” said Athens County Commissioner Larry Payne. “Nothing overwhelming in numbers but enough valid issues were raised that I felt I needed to consider a new approach, and not just continue the current policy because that’s the way it has been done.”
The draft proposal sets three points for the shelter to follow regarding their euthanasia policy. The first is that lethal injection be the “first and preferred option to euthanize a dog.”
The second mandates that the current carbon monoxide gas chamber be used only as a last resort “if in the opinion of the Athens County Dog Warden it would be a safety hazard to a veterinarian or dog shelter county staff employee to euthanize an aggressive dog by lethal injection.”
Last, the proposed policy requires the dog warden to provide the county commissioners with a monthly list for all dogs at the shelter in the preceding month. The draft states that the list “shall include the number of dogs adopted, the number rescued and the number of any dogs euthanized.”
Those concerned with the switch to lethal injection worry about the cost and its effect on the shelter. The commissioners are currently waiting for a cost comparison of the carbon monoxide gas chamber versus lethal injection from the shelter’s dog warden, according to Payne.
Karen Kuhlman, president of the Athens County Animal Advocates, said that she sees the proposed policy change as progress. However, Kuhlman said that the group “will continue to work on this campaign until the gas chamber is dismantled, because that is the only way we can guarantee that it is no longer used.”
The Athens County Animal Advocates is a group organized to petition the Athens County Commissioners from gassing at the shelter. Their petition calls for a county-wide ban on euthanasia by carbon monoxide gas chambers, the adoption of lethal injection as the only allowable method of euthanasia, the dismantling of the gas chamber at the Athens County Dog Shelter and the formation of a citizens’ oversight committee to provide ongoing accountability and transparency of the shelter’s operations, according to the group’s Facebook page.
The commissioners will continue working on the drafted proposal over the next several weeks but are not expected to make a final decision on the changes until the shelter completes the cost comparison.
This story originally appeared on thenewpolitical.com and can also be read here.
A previous piece to this story appeared here.