Last year, the animal shelter in Fairfax County euthanized more than 1,000 cats and dogs and the animal shelter in Alexandria euthanized more than 600. The statistics don't tell the story of how the animals are "put down."
Nationwide, animal shelters generally turn to euthanasia when they run out of space for pets that are either stray or turned in by their owners. Some of these shelters are killing the animals with gas chambers that, according to a statement released by Congressman Jim Moran (D-8th), "can result in prolonged suffering and distress, particularly among old, pregnant, sick or injured animals unable to readily absorb the gas."
Virginia is currently one out of only 18 states to prohibit the use of gas chambers. Animal shelters in Virginia instead use lethal injections considered to be a more humane method.
Moran, co-chair of the Congressional Animal Protection Caucus, is hoping other states will follow suit. He has introduced H. Res. 736, a resolution that calls for states to euthanize animals with injectable drugs instead of using gas chambers.
“I am pleased to introduce this resolution with the support of several of my constituents to bring more attention to this unnecessarily gruesome practice of using gas chambers to kill shelter animals,” said Moran. “I am hopeful that with the continued advocacy of compassionate citizens, we can put an end to this outdated practice.”
Euthanizing by injections decreases suffering by causing the animals to lose brain function and consciousness before their organs shut down. An animal will then die more quickly than using gas chambers.
"I think that all people who love animals will appreciate Congressman Jim Moran's leadership and commitment to helping to end the inhumane and painful use of gas chambers to kill homeless animals,” said Vola Lawson, former Alexandria City Manager, in a statement. The Alexandria animal shelter bears her name.
According to the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, hundreds of dogs, cats and other pets were euthanized in the Kingstowne area during 2011:Shelter/Rescue Organization Dogs Cats Other Companion Animals Animal Welfare League of Alexandria 292 305
45Fairfax County Animal Control 600 569