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Sandy City Eliminates Use of Gas Chamber at Animal Shelter

Nov 06, 2015 10:27AM ● Published by Stacy Nielsen

By Stacy Nielsen

Sandy - Councilwoman Kris Nichols championed the ordinance unanimously passed calling for the elimination of the gas chamber as an acceptable form of euthanasia in Sandy City. 

At the council meeting on Sept. 1, Mayor Dolan expressed that his offices, too, are ready to move forward with the process to eliminate the gas chamber completely and recommended the council pass the ordinance. 

Residents of Sandy filled the meeting room at City Hall, expressing their overwhelming support and appreciation to the city for being leaders in eliminating the use of the gas chamber and hope it leads to the elimination of the gas chamber in the state.

There has been a dramatic decrease in the number of animals that have been euthanized, and the quickest and most humane way is not by use of the chamber but by lethal injection, which takes approximately three to five seconds; whereas the use of a gas chamber may require up to 25 minutes or several attempts before the animal is put to rest.

Police Chief Kevin Thacker assured the council that domestic animals, such as dogs and cats, are not being euthanized by way of the chamber, but rather wildlife, such as skunks, raccoons and other dangerous animals that are picked up by animal control. 

“We are not against getting rid of the gas chamber. We have developed and we are working with a transition team, and there are things that need to be done at the shelter to get ready for this,” Chief Thacker said.

The city currently does not have cages conducive to do the injections, and the shelter needs to be remodeled in order to accommodate the changes being implemented, but they are ready to move forward.

The police department currently has four officers, but are needing an additional three officers that need to be trained to be police officers and then trained in animal control and services.

Councilman Cowdell indicated that he “understands this can’t be done overnight and there has to be a transition and training time, but would like to see this happen as quickly as possible.”

The estimated cost for remodeling the shelter, as well as the equipment needed, comes in at $30-$50,000 and is being funded by rollover funds and savings from the police department. 

Councilwoman Linda Seville, also in favor of eliminating the gas chamber, indicated that she “wants animal control to do it the right way. When changes occur too quickly, you make mistakes. Let’s do it the safest way possible and make sure the chief (of police) has everything needed to do this right.” 

Sundays Hunt, the Utah State director of the Humane Society, offered their assistance to help get the officers trained as quickly as possible. 

The city will receive an $8,000 grant from Arthur Benjamin, the founder of American Dog Rescue, in order to assist in training and material costs to the city, but it won’t cover everything that is needed. 

The ordinance passed with full support, calling for the elimination of the gas chamber as a form of euthanasia, and shall be effective as of Dec. 31, 2015.

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