Letters to the Editor

Marianna R. Burt: A good beginning to humane animal care

Regarding the Dec. 12 news article “ N.C. bans animal gas chambers”: “The pound is gone, and I think that is something to celebrate,” said a humane official describing the new statewide ban on gas chambers for euthanasia in public animal shelters. Such triumphant words are understandable but inaccurate.

We would do better to recall Winston Churchill’s statement following a World War II victory: “It is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. It is the end of the beginning.”

A change of euthanasia methods is not a cure-all for the array of problems facing many public “pounds” or shelters throughout the state. Any method of euthanasia can be misused. Indeed, some complaints have been made to the Animal Welfare Division of the Department of Agriculture concerning willful underdosing or other improper administration of euthanasia drugs.

Vigilance is required to ensure that correct procedures are carried out, in this as in other areas of shelter management. One solution lies in the willingness of a community to participate in oversight of its shelter. Local governments need to establish shelter oversight committees to monitor and advise.

Certainly the gas chamber ban is a great victory. Perhaps we are really seeing “the end of the beginning” in the struggle for humane shelter care.

Marianna R. Burt