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Rowan to stop using gas chamber at animal shelter

SALISBURY Rowan County commissioners voted Monday night to become the latest in a series of Charlotte-area counties to phase out the use of the gas chamber as a way to euthanize animals at county-operated shelters.

By a 5-0 vote, commissioners decided to begin euthanizing animals by injection, starting April 1. Dogs and cats considered “aggressive” will continue to be euthanized by lethal gas, but only until county employees receive training and equipment to euthanize those animals by injections, too.

The commissioners also voted to move toward a “no-kill” animal shelter, stepping up efforts to have dogs and cats adopted. The county will appoint a veterinarian to spay or neuter any animals that are adopted.

Rowan joins a number of other Charlotte-area counties that have decided in recent months to move toward “no-kill” shelters and drop the practice of using a gas chamber.

Last summer, Cabarrus County voted to use injections to euthanize shelter animals. And in September, Iredell County took the same action.

A number of Iredell residents had complained to county commissioners in the spring of 2013 about treatment of animals at the shelter. After studying the problem, county commissioners said they were getting rid of the gas chamber.

Then in November, Lincoln County commissioners followed suit. They also adopted the No Kill Equation, with a goal of adopting out 90 percent of the animals at the shelter.

A group of animal rights activists held at least two rallies in recent months in Salisbury, urging commissioners to stop using the gas chamber. More than 200 people protested in November before a commissioners’ meeting.

North Carolina state law allows counties to use gas chambers, but animal rights supporters say the practice is barbaric. They said an injection only takes a few minutes to kill an animal. The gas chamber, they say, can take up to 20 minutes.

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