Utah Pound Cat Story: Why Am I Not Happier?
October 15, 2011
The West Valley City Animal Shelter in Utah gasses groups of pets to death. Recently, after gassing a group of cats, the worker who opened the chamber found a black cat named Andrea was still alive. So the worker scooped Andrea up in his arms, showered her with kisses and told her she was a miracle kitty who would be pampered for the rest of her days. Just kidding. He gassed her again. Then he put her in a garbage bag and tossed her in the freezer. Forty-five minutes later, workers went into the freezer unit to add the remains of a dog they’d just killed and heard persistent meowing. They opened up the trash bag containing Andrea and found she was alive. The pound manager called the Community Animal Welfare Society (CAWS) to come get the cat. I don’t know if it was because the manager felt sympathy for Andrea or if she was just frustrated that the cat wouldn’t die. The manager refused to talk to the news station reporting the story.
The TV crew got to meet Andrea, now in the care of CAWS:
“She’s used up three of her nine lives,” laughed Janita Coombs of the Community Animal Welfare Society. “And we hope she doesn’t use up any more!”
Yeah, total ha. A real knee-slapper, that one.
In the video accompanying the online article, the reporter says CAWS may offer Andrea for adoption or might “use her” in their campaign against the gas chamber. Use her. Maybe everything is just rubbing me the wrong way today, I don’t know.
West Valley City’s Animal Shelter manager and other workers declined to comment to FOX 13 on Friday. City spokesman Aaron Crim said they follow the proper procedures and defended the method as being endorsed by the American Veterinary Association.
Those who want to keep gassing pets to death often cite that it is an AVMA approved method of killing (pdf). This is accurate. But it needs to be put into context. The AVMA has become isolated in its support for the gas chamber. The No Kill Advocacy Center (pdf), the Association of Shelter Veterinarians (pdf), the National Animal Control Association, and the American Humane Association have all issued position statements against the use of the gas chamber. In addition, Arizona, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Washington and Wyoming all ban gas chambers for killing shelter pets in their states. Other states have similar legislation pending.
“We’ve never had an instance since we used this method. It’s very quick, very humane,” Crim said. “This is an anomaly.”
As pet advocates know, gas chamber survivors may be rare, relative to the number of pets killed, but they do make the news with some regularity (e.g. Lucky, Quentin and Grace). As for the method being consistently quick and humane, apparently the AVMA is the last major animal group clinging to that myth. Much to Mr. Crim’s delight I suppose.
The West Valley City Pound has a website. In addition to protecting the community, they see their job as follows:
It is also our responsibility to care for ourselves. We must be proud of the work that we are doing, recognize our accomplishments and compliment to [sic] each other. Be happy. If you are happy, those around you will be happy too resulting in more effective service to yourself and the citizens of West Valley City and Taylorsville.
Tha hell? Compliment to each other. Also, when the local news shows up: Hide.
Both CAWS and West Valley City agree that the method wouldn’t be necessary if shelters weren’t overrun with stray animals. They encouraged pet owners to take more responsibility by spaying and neutering their animals and keeping them for life.
Man, why can I not like any of these people even one iota? Newsflash: Not everyone can afford spay-neuter and not everyone can keep their pets for life. Life is a fluid situation. Sometimes people need education and/or a helping hand. I checked the CAWS website because I wanted to see what their position was on spay-neuter and because I really want to like them. After all, they took in Andrea when they got the call. They have a page called Spay and Neuter on their site. It’s blank. But on other pages they do have info about TNR for community cats and state they offer some assistance to people in the community who need help getting their pets neutered. So that’s good. I just wish Andrea’s story left me with a better feeling. What do you think?