The Truth About Cats & Dogs

Today's News & Observer details efforts to get NC pet shelters to switch from gas chambers to lethal injections for killing animals:

[D]ozens of North Carolina shelters [] still use gas chambers to kill unwanted dogs and cats. The practice is falling out of favor nationally, and some animal activists are lobbying the state to stop it.

As I understand it, though, the main objection to the gas chamber is that it's the gas chamber. One activist says "it's a pet holocaust." Both methods are painless and effective, though injection is slightly quicker—20 seconds of consciousness after injections, 30-60 after the gas is turned on.

The main substantive objection seems to be that dogs and cats howl and scratch in the gas chamber until they lose consciousness. Vets say they're not in pain, but anxious about being in a dark place. That sounds like a good reason not to build new gas chambers (long-term costs of the two methods are comparable), but not a good reason to make county governments pay to switch. Reducing animal suffering is a valid use for state funds, but as the federal government bows out of state and local spending, I find it difficult to imagine that reducing a dog or cat's lifetime anxiety by 30-60 seconds should be a top priority.

I have two cats—Jack & Grace—and a puppy named Daisy. I just thought I'd get my pet credentials out there before the comments start. Let me suggest that if we're going to start spending more state and local money on animal welfare, we should start with better enforcement of existing cruelty laws, maybe strengthening those laws, and creating effective spay/neuter programs so that we don't have to euthanize 200,000+ dogs and cats a year.


I read this online this morning

It was the lead story. People love their animals - just not stray animals. I'll go off topic and tell you my insane idea about dealing with strays. First, I've got a dog, used to have another and a cat. Grew up with half a dozen dogs.

We are far, far behind in the battle against strays. The cages are full and we put down 4-5 million pets a year. The reason is irresponsible owners and a few feral colonies. I lived next to one in St. Augustine, they would come once a year and tranquilize 10 or 20 cats and try to adop them out. Mostly the ones put down come from overbreeding.

The insane idea. For six months, do not keep any animals for longer than a day. Clear out the backlog. But, in conjunction with this, pass a law that ALL animals that are not AKC registered must be spayed or neutered. If an animal comes into the vet, unregistered and with its privates still in place, then they have to be removed. My dogs have all been mutts, and the one dog I bought myself came from the pound, but maybe it's not the best idea.

Perhaps if we can get ahead of the curve now, then we won't have to kill off 4-5 million animals each year for the next 20. Maybe we could get down to 100K per year if we cleared out the backlog. Cruel in the short-term, kind in the long-term.

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.

While Staying Always 10 Meters Away

from the suggestion of insta-euthanizing strays, let me say that I like a law requiring spaying/neutering. It strikes me, though, that you'd really have to step up enforcement on puppy mills (and the kitty equivalents). That's cruel, and the animals that come out of there usually don't learn to socialize well.


AKC licensing should be more strict.

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.

My wife grew up on a farm

where she developed a matter-of-fact approach to death of both people and animals. In fact, she used to get paid a "nickel a neck" to kill baby starlings before they escaped their messy nests. They killed chickens and hogs, butchered cows, ate their pet goose, and on and on.

I say all this to make the point that reverence for the wonder of life doesn't necessarily translate into the assumption that we should automatically do everything possible to keep everything and everyone alive. I was enormously gratified, for example, when the SCOTUS upheld Oregon's laws on assisted suicide.

This is a complex issue, but until we confront the consequences of our actions and inactions, it will be a chronic and growing problem. This debate about HOW to kill animals is a tempest in a teapot compared to the larger issue.


PS I had to euthanize my last dog. He was a 13-year-old dachshund and he died by lethal injection. It was terrible. The needle obviously hurt him and death was by no means instant.

I had carry my dog into the office

for euthanasia when I was 15 years old. It was the hardest thing I had ever done. I agree though that there is a difference between your family pet and a pack of dogs running wild and loose. My Dad also grew up on a farm and he said it was commonplace to shoot wild dogs, cats were appreciated because they moused the dairy barn.

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.