SB50: Bill banning use of gas chambers to put down animals fails

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Maddi Dayton
A bill that would ban animal euthanasia by gas chamber failed to pass committee Wednesday. (Maddi Driggs)

SALT LAKE CITY — Legislation that would ban using carbon monoxide to euthanize animals in shelters in Utah failed to pass committee for the fourth year in a row.

Sen. Peter Knudson, R-Brigham City, sponsored the legislation.

“I believe very strongly that we should get rid of the gas chambers which are used for euthanasia,” Knudson said. “There are humane methods of taking care of animals that need to be put down.”

SB50 would have required Utah shelters to put down animals through euthanasia by injection.

Euthanasia by injection involves giving an animal a shot. The shot contains substances that make the animal fall asleep, then disrupt the heart’s activity.

“It’s a humane approach to putting an animal down,” Knudson said.

Of the 57 animal shelters in Utah, 50 have already converted to using euthanasia by injection.

John Ziegler, a critical care anesthesiologist with experience in veterinary medicine, supports ending the use of gas chambers.

“The concept of the gas chamber, without any doubt, is a much less humane way of ending an animal’s life than injection,” Ziegler said.

Gene Baierschmidt, executive director of the Humane Society of Utah, spoke in favor of the bill during the Senate committee meeting Wednesday, Jan. 24.

“(Euthanasia by injection) is less expensive, it’s faster, it’s painless for the animals and its safer for the personnel,” Baierschmidt said.

Both Ziegler and Baierschmidt said the physical trauma caused by gas chambers on animals being put down is significant. Many animal owners suffer emotional trauma after seeing their animal be put down in a gas chamber.

After the Senate Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environment Committee heard a half hour of favorable comments, the bill failed on a 4-3 vote.

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