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Proposed bill would prohibit using gas chamber to put pets down in Utah shelters

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Posted at 9:30 PM, Feb 19, 2015
and last updated 2015-02-19 23:30:46-05

SALT LAKE CITY -- Animal advocates are trying to outlaw gas chambers in Utah’s animal shelters, and a bill that would do that was introduced at the State Capitol Thursday afternoon.

Animal advocates say the facts show the gas chamber is a torturous method of euthanasia and not every animal dies after enduring it. Senator Todd Weiler agrees and said it's time local shelters ended the practice.

“We're trying to end an inhumane practice, if you will, and bring about a more humane practice in terms of expiring these animals,” Weiler said.

Utah is one of only 11 states in the nation that still uses gas chambers to put down stray pets.

"Looking at the choices of euthanizing an animal, it has been recommended by every national organization that you should euthanize by injection,” said Deann Shepherd, the director of communications for the Humane Society of Utah.

In Utah, the eight shelters still using the gas chamber serve an estimated 41 percent of the state's population. The Humane Society of Utah is working to end animal shelters' use of the gas chamber not only because they feel it's a horrible way for animals to die, but also because they argue shelters do not follow specific recommendations for the gas chambers.

“A shelter situation cannot precisely measure the recommended measure of the gas, and there's no way to guarantee that the animals are having a humane treatment with the gas,” Shepherd said.

But opponents of the bill argue the chambers are humane.

“We want it to be painless, we want it to be insidious--which means we want to be quick," said Tug Gutttling, Chairman of the Utah Coalition of Animal Shelters. "Carbon monoxide chambers, according to the veterinary medical association, do all three of those things. In fact, it's listed as their advantages."

Guttling said the gas chamber is easier on the workers who are putting the animals down because they don't have to watch the animal die.