Opinion: Dogs and cat survive the gas chamber

Robert Thomas Young

Robert Thomas Young

Robert Thomas Young is a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].

A stray cat in West Valley City, Utah, survived not one, but two trips through an animal shelter’s gas chamber in October after not being adopted for 30 days.

The poor cat survived the first gassing, so they decided to gas her again. Workers thought she was dead and put her in a cooler, inside a plastic bag. Later, they checked the cooler to find a live cat that was suffering hypothermia.

After two attempts at gassing her, the animal shelter decided to let her live, and the newly named Andrea has been adopted.

In Florence, Alabama, a dog named Daniel becomes the third animal to survive the gas chamber at local shelters in the last 12 years. These shelter employees were much more empathetic than those who gassed the cat twice and were gracious enough to rescue him without putting him through a second trip through the chamber.

Notice that we only call the act of killing them cruel when it doesn’t work. How moral does that make us as a society?

While many states have banned gas chambers for euthanizing animals, it is still a common practice. The Humane Society estimates that 3 to 4 million animals are euthanized in the gas chambers each year in the United States, which comprise about half of all animals turned in to shelters.

When did gassing pets become OK? And, why do people suddenly become compassionate only after some lucky dog or cat miraculously survives this horrendous practice?

After the atrocities of World War II, I can’t help but think it odd that we would allow the gassing of anybody or anything, regardless of the effectiveness or convenience. Yet, we gas millions of dogs and cats each year, justifying these horrific acts by citing the problem of overpopulation. You would think that — as a species — we would eliminate this practice completely, but instead we strive to make it more effective.

The earth is host to 7 billion people and growing. We are quickly overpopulating and consuming a greater share of limited natural resources.

I wonder if we will bestow the same fate we give to pets on each other in the future, citing the same necessity to deal with overpopulation in the most expedient way.

Most people don’t ponder the ethics of pet euthanasia until they read about the process not working properly, putting some pet through an awful ordeal.

So, they get upset when they hear about a dog or cat surviving the gas chamber. There is a reason that people are so uneasy to hear about pets being gassed; it is morally disturbing in a very profound way.

Some people simply write off these pets as just another burden on society that needs to be eliminated.

Mahatma Gandhi said that society should be judged on how it treats its least fortunate. While I agree that the problem of animal overpopulation needs to be addressed, I do not think gassing is even a consideration in doing so.

If any of us were in the position of these pets, we would hope and pray that those deciding our fate would be compassionate. Yet, we don’t extend the same courtesy and dignity to other animals. So much for the golden rule.