PA Senate Unanimous in Vote to Outlaw Gassing of Companion Animals

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Pennsylvania appears to be on its way to banning the use of gas chambers on cats and dogs in shelters. After 48-0 passage by the Senate, attention turns to the House, where the bill is said to have strong support.

Outmoded language in the previous version of the law governing euthanization practices in Pennsylvania may have helped to gain support for SB 1329, which unanimously passed the State Senate of the Pennsylvania General Assembly yesterday. The bill known as Daniel’s Law, for a beagle that survived gassing in Alabama, is headed to the House, where it has support and is likely to pass. Senator Andy Dinniman, the bill’s sponsor, thanked his fellow lawmakers for their support in both houses of the Assembly, and also gave thanks to the thousands of animal lovers who have lobbied for passage of the bill.

The language in a portion of the 1983 version of the bill creates visions of automobile tailpipes hooked up to death chambers, saying: If an internal combustion engine is used, a means of cooling the gas to a temperature not to exceed 115 degrees Fahrenheit at the point of entry into the cabinet and not to exceed 90 degrees Fahrenheit at any point in the cabinet as determined by temperature gauges permanently installed at point of entry and inside the cabinet.
Further stipulations on the use of internal combustion engines follow. Those and other aspects of the old bill are repealed.

The new bill also mandates the use of humane lethal injection of phenobarbitol or a derivative in the euthanization of shelter animals. It also requires shelters and veterinarians to publicly post their methods of euthanization. It appears not to outlaw the use of firearms by shelter staff or animal control personnel.

Senator Dinniman is optimistic for passage in the House, at which point, Pennsylvania will join nineteen other states that have already set the humane ban in place.

Some shelters oppose the ban and say they favor gassing beacuse it is cheaper. Others use the reasoning that they don’t want to store barbituates, which may be targeted by thieves. Yet others say gassing is not as bad as many of us think. Some shelter spokesmen place the blame for gassing on pet owners who do not spay or neuter. These examples do not represent all shelters, just the subset who oppose the ban, and engage in the practice of gassing.

State Senator James Brewster, SB 1329 co-sponsor, said of the costs of the gassing ban, in a February news report, “I think this is one that doesn’t harm anybody. I know when I was mayor of McKeesport, we said if we had to pay for the injections as opposed to carbon monoxide, we would do that.”

Daniel’s Law is not yet a done deal for Pennsylvania’s cats and dogs, but the prospects look good.

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