Sandy council votes unanimously; eliminates gas chamber at animal shelter

Posted at 10:16 PM, Sep 01, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-02 19:28:03-04

SANDY, Utah -- Sandy City Council unanimously voted to eliminate the use of the gas chamber when it comes to euthanizing animals in the city, both domestic and wild on Tuesday.

The council and majority of the public agreed that it was inhumane to put animals to sleep using the chamber.

"This is right for Sandy I believe and should be done," said Councilwoman Kris Nicholl.

Utah is one of seven states in the country where animals are still euthanized through a gas chamber. Counting Sandy, there were currently eight shelters in Utah that have working gas chambers.

"It can take up to 25 minutes before these animals expel in a chamber so there is that whole time that they are sitting there experiencing this while their bodies are shutting down so for us to believe that they simply go to sleep and it's not painful for them is really ridiculous," said Sundays Hunt, Utah State Director, Humane Society of the United States.

There were more than a dozen organizations and members of the public on hand to support council's decision.

"There is no excuse, I've sat in five other states that made this transition," said Arthur Benjamin.

Benjamin, of Animal Dog Rescue, along with The Humane Society of the United States and an anonymous donor, are donating a combined $8,000 in grant money to the city to help with the transition away from the chamber, when it comes to training and equipment.

Last year, 362 wild animals were euthanized in the chamber.

"The few that need to be euthanized, they need to go humanely, they need to know the last few minutes of their life are calm and they can pass," said Benjamin.

However, some animal service officers say the gas chamber is necessary when it comes to safely dealing with wild animals like raccoons and skunks that could be carrying deadly disease.

"Certainly with a skunk there is the opportunity of being sprayed if you are having to get right there and do the injection, of course with a raccoon, it's wild so it's the nature of the wildlife animals being more difficult to deal with and having that one on one contact with an injection rather than the gas chamber," said Nicole Martin, Communications Director for Sandy.

The Sandy Chief of Police said he was in favor of keeping the gas chamber for special circumstances and also added he thought transitioning away from the gas chamber would take six to eight months. The city has given animal services until December 31.

"There are new techniques, new drugs, that need to be introduced to them and we have great community partners willing to give them that training," said Nicholl.