I’ve been quite astonished to learn that the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has sent a “cease and desist” letter to my local Warner Robins Animal Shelter. PETA reports that Warner Robins, Cobb County, and Bulloch County are violating a state mandate requiring that gas chambers no longer be used in the euthanasia of homeless animals. The letters were sent on April 5, 2007 by attorney Walter H. Bush specifying that the shelters comply with the 1990 Georgia Law by April 10,2007.
The Georgia Department of Agriculture and commissioner, Tommy Irvin, were sued in March, by the very person who implemented the Humane Euthanasia Act in 1990 (former state Rep. Chesley Morton) for authorizing the usage of these gas chambers. Although the courts ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, the Houston Home Journal, has reported that Warner Robins hasn’t taken heed and did not comply by the April 10th deadline. Instead, they are researching their ability to continue under a pre-law exemption. Tsk. Tsk.
I have visited this particular shelter and even understand the unique experiences of those who must work in such an environment, where the endless stream of unwanted or homeless pets continues unfettered, despite the best intentions of “spay or neuter” campaigns and publicized high death statistics. It is truly a dark place and not one for the faint of heart. On the other side of the coin, a thousand yard stare does not constitute a free pass to cast all moral and ethical evolution aside.
I love animals as much as the next person. I may turn a forgetful blind eye to the conspicuous absence of cruelty free product labeling or forget that, while I sleep peacefully in my bed, millions of animals suffer at the hands of their human best friends, but I cannot quite wrap my desensitized brain around the reality that my local animal shelter has been shamelessly operating a gas chamber. What?!
It is not for lack of a better way. Shelters all across the nation practice euthanasia, but we find the little comfort we can in the popular notion that they do not suffer. We find our comfort in the trust that it is being done humanely.
According to PETA, the reality of the gas chamber is an undignified, slow, and sometimes violent death. Meanwhile, Warner Robins City Attorney, Jim Elliot, has announced that the city will continue operating its gas chambers until the state tells them they can’t. To this I say, there is a time to have a stand off and then there is a time to demand accountability- and at least a small measure of human decency.
I can’t help but wonder what will be the response of the good citizens here in the heart of Georgia. Will more of us face down the gray pall and filth of the shelter to adopt and simultaneously rescue a few new friends? Or will we recoil with disgust, in the knowledge of what is happening deep within the walls, and refuse to support the shelter in any way? Finally, what will be the end result for the homeless animals in Warner Robins, Ga.?