WJTV News Channel 12 - Humane Society working to eliminate gas chambers in NC shelters

Humane Society working to eliminate gas chambers in NC shelters

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North Carolina is one of six states in the country that still uses gas chambers to euthanize animals.

The Humane Society has been working to phase them out for years, but gas chambers still exist in some animal shelters.

Cyndy Midgett, an animal activist, is looking to raise awareness of the issue by walking from the coast to Raleigh.

"I've got to do something. I can't just stand by and let it go," said Midgett.

She walked from her home in Manteo and arrived in Halifax Mall in downtown Raleigh Monday to protest the use of gas chambers.

Kim Alboum, the Director of the North Carolina Humane Society, said the use of gas is putting a horrible stigma on the state's shelters, which can overshadow the good work a shelter does.

"We have people that don't even live in our state criticizing our shelters and our shelter staff even in shelters that don't use the gas chambers simply because there are some shelters that do," says Alboum.

Out of the 100 counties in North Carolina, 11 shelters in Beaufort, Cleveland, Davidson, Gaston, Granville, Martin, Randolph, Rowan, Union, Wilkes and Wilson counties still use gas chambers to euthanize dogs and cats.

Alboum said two of these counties are close to eliminating gas chambers.

"This next step, it just seems logical. It's 2013 .There's no reason for us to have gas chambers in North Carolina," said Alboum.

Earlier this month, Alexander County's shelter dismantled its gas chamber for good. It was an emotional day for animal control officers there.

"For us, it's like that clouds gone, and we can continue to move forward," said Jennifer Pennell, an animal control officer at Alexander County's shelter.

The Humane Society gave a $10,000 grant to provide animal control officers with the proper training they need to use lethal injection instead. All shelters in North Carolina now have access to those drugs, though it doesn't change the reality of putting an animal down.

"I mean it still hurts you no matter how the animal has to be euthanized, it still hurts you on a personal level, but it's just more humane for you to actually have your hands on the animal to let him know there's somebody there that cares during that last moment ,"said Pennell. 

That is why animal officials urge people to adopt animals or have them spayed or neutered.

For more information about the Humane Society, or to find out ways you can help, click here.

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