2010-03-27 / News

Animal shelter to favor injections

NEWARK- Licking County Commissioners announced last week that the Licking County Animal Shelter will favor euthanasia by lethal injection, using its gas chamber method only in extreme cases. However, some critics of the shelter aren’t convinced the shelter’s operation will significantly change.

Commissioners announced that one full-time employee and two intermittent employees were added to the shelter staff to begin returning the department to “full strength.” The additional staffing allows the shelter to euthanize most animals, when necessary, using lethal injection. The only exception would be vicious or dangerous animals that pose a serious risk to shelter employees’ safety. According to a news release, the vision is to develop training, procedures, and equipment to allow for exclusive lethal injection use and retire the carbon monoxide (gas) euthanasia option.

“A lot of progressive animal shelters are doing this,” said Commissioner Tim Bubb Tuesday. The injection method is also more popular with the public, he said. The shelter has used each method when appropriate. Either way, “we don’t do a lot of this,” said Bubb, adding that nine in ten dogs find homes from the shelter.

According to the release, the commissioners and animal control staff, with constructive input from some community members are continuing a process of moving forward to succession planning for staffing as well as transition to “best” management practices. Staff members continue to gather information from other animal shelters across the state as a guide for improved operations. Announcements of additional positive changes are planned in the weeks ahead.

However, simply saying the gas chamber won’t be used isn’t enough for some. “Unless the gas chamber is removed, “Licking County Animal Shelter Director Jon Luzio will continue killing dogs and cats without sedating them and unless it is removed, the people will protest,” said BARK Animal Rescue activist Bonnie Mansfield.

Mansfield said roughly 33 percent of the dogs Luzio kills he says are aggressive. She said he doesn’t keep records on the cats that come in so there are no accurate records on euthanized cats. “There are some records on what he sells to research, but since anything you sell is inventory, wouldn’t it be professional to keep track of how many come in or out?” said Mansfield. “Couldn’t someone sell cats to the research lab and pocket the money?” She’s not saying that happens but, “what kind of professional would create a potential for theft by not having proper records?” asked Mansfield. She said a dog that she believes was non-aggressive was gassed shortly after the commissioners’ press release was issued.

Luzio said previously that animals are sedated before entering the gas chamber.

Bubb said he trusts the shelter employees to determine which animals are aggressive and should be euthanized. “They have to make tough decisions,” he said. “I have complete respect for them. I trust the professionals we work with to make good decisions. We’re not basing decisions on the complaints of a few people who inject themselves into the situation.”

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