Oklahoma politicians hope to outlaw gas chamber in animal euthanization

Sen. David Holt, R-Oklahoma City, and Rep. Brian Renegar, D-McAlester, introduced bills that would outlaw using carbon monoxide gas chambers as a form of euthanasia in Oklahoma animal shelters.
by Heather Warlick Published: February 8, 2014

“That was one job I really did not like doing,” he said.

Legally, in Oklahoma, the only euthanasia option other than carbon monoxide is lethal injection, Renegar said. To discourage the use of carbon monoxide in shelters, state legislators passed a bill a few years ago that created a certification course approved by the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics. It's an eight-hour course given by the state Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners that teaches people to humanely put down animals using sodium Phenobarbital.

Without becoming certified, people cannot legally handle sodium Phenobarbital. It's more cost-effective for shelters to have a certified euthanasia technician than to use the services of a veterinarian, Renegar said. The cost of the sodium Phenobarbital needed to euthanize a 20-pound dog, Renegar said, is about 25 cents. Americanhumane.org states that the cost to use carbon monoxide poisoning is $4.98 per animal.

Not only is carbon monoxide considered less humane than euthanasia by injection, it also presents hazards to those who administer the process. The site animalsheltering.org states “Staff must still handle, transport and place fractious and fearful animals into the CO chamber, and as such are at risk of bites and scratches.” Furthermore, shelter staff members have reported higher emotional stress from euthanizing using CO than with injection.

“In a perfect world, we wouldn't want to euthanize any animals, but it is, at this point, still a necessary evil, so if you're going to do it, at least do it humanely,” Holt said.

Senate Bill 1729 and House Bill 2764 will be heard in the Agriculture Committees of the Oklahoma Senate and House of Representatives.

by Heather Warlick
Life & Style Editor
Since graduating from University of Central Oklahoma with a Bachelor's Degree in Journalism, Staff Writer Heather Warlick has written stories for The Oklahoman's Life section. Her beats have included science, health, home and garden, family,...
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