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            In the 2016 session of the Utah State Legislature, HB 187 — Animal Shelter Amendments failed to pass the House of Representatives by a vote of 40 to 31. HB 187 sought to ban the use of a gas chamber for euthanizing shelter animals and wildlife statewide. Despite passing the House Political Subdivisions Committee by a vote of 9 to 1 and the hard-fought efforts of the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Johnny Anderson, the Humane Society of Utah, the Humane Society of the United States, and numerous Utah animal welfare advocates, for now, the seven shelters that still utilize the gas chamber will continue to euthanize animals in this manner. Nationwide, there are fewer than three dozen shelters still employing this outdated method, and Utah has seven of them.


            We will continue to fight for its elimination in favor of euthanasia by injection (EBI) for the following reasons:

  • Most animal shelters, even in rural areas, already use EBI.
  • The trend across the country is to eliminate the use of the chamber.
  • Major national animal welfare groups — including the American Veterinary Medical Association, the National Animal Care & Control Association, the Humane Society of the United States, the American Humane Association, and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals — state that EBI is considered to be the only preferred method of choice for the humane euthanasia of dogs and cats.
  • EBI is as cost-effective if not less expensive than the gas chamber for euthanasia.
  • With proper training, even aggressive or fractious animals can be humanely euthanized with EBI. A sedative can be given before EBI is administered.
  • Carbon monoxide chambers do NOT provide a swift, humane death; EBI does.
  • Carbon monoxide is an extremely hazardous, toxic, explosive gas. Small doses over a long period of time may cause permanent health issues.


            Those who spoke in opposition to HB 187 made some statements which were absolute untruths. For example, one stated that with EBI, the injection is delivered to the animal’s heart.  If you’ve ever taken your beloved pet to a veterinarian to be euthanized, you know this is not true. The drug is injected into a vein in the animal’s foreleg. Another representative said that the sodium pentobarbital takes up to 15 minutes to render an animal unconscious.  This is also not true; it takes three to five seconds for the animal to lose consciousness. Another said that with EBI, the animal is “grabbed around the neck and held down while you shove a needle in their heart.”  Again, this is totally false information. The animal may be pre-sedated and is gently held in the arms of one technician while another smoothly slides the needle into a vein in the leg. Simply put, those legislators who opposed the bill simply had not done their homework before speaking, or they would have better understood the facts comparing both methods.


            The Humane Society of Utah will remain steadfast in working to eliminate the gas chamber for euthanizing animals in shelters throughout the state. We believe the facts based on research by many national organizations, along with our 50 years of experience utilizing EBI only, will prevail. We owe it to Utah’s companion animals, as well as wildlife, to continue to fight on their behalf. We believe every animal deserves the compassion and dignity offered by EBI in their last moments of life. We’ll be back in 2017 and encourage our members to stay involved. We thank you for your support!



Gene Baierschmidt

HSU Executive Director