Tens of thousands of people have now signed an online petition calling on the Northern Utah Valley Animal Shelter to stop euthanizing animals in carbon monoxide gas chambers.
Animal rights activists argue this is an inhumane and outdated practice, and say two Utah County shelters are among the last in the country to kill animals this way.
Erica Olsen started the petition, “End North UT Valley Animal Shelter Murdering Animals In Gas Chambers”, which over several weeks was signed by nearly 67,000 people. She and Jeremy Beckham, the executive director of the Utah Animal Rights Coalition, are planning a protest that they hope will spur Utah County leaders to action.
Beckham has been working for years to get the Northern Utah Valley Animal Shelter, or NUVAS, to stop euthanizing animals with carbon monoxide. He spoke about the issue at an Orem city council meeting where he called on city leaders to change their contract with the shelter – an action he said could be the catalyst for change.
“Virtually all shelters across the country have now switched to injection euthanasia,” Beckham told council on May 25.
Animal rights activists point out that injection euthanasia is the “only method preferred by all major national veterinary and animal welfare organizations” because its cost is “comparable” to the use of carbon monoxide, “more quick, painless and safer for (shelter) staff “. ,” according to Utah Humanitarian Society.
Animals euthanized in a gas chamber can suffer for up to 30 minutes before dying, says the Humane Society of Utah. During this time, they show symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, including confusion, dizziness, headache, nausea, and vomiting. Some animals “survive the terrifying process,” says the Humane Society of Utah.
Beckham, Olsen and other animal rights activists want Orem to change the language of his contract with NUVAS to demand that Orem’s animals that end up at NUVAS be euthanized in guidelines described by the American Veterinary Medical Association. Since at least 2013, Beckham says, the AVMA has recommended injecting euthanasia as the most humane method.
NUVAS serves 12 towns in northern Utah County, but Beckham says Orem City is the shelter’s biggest contract. 2News contacted NUVAS to confirm this information, but had not received any response from the shelter operators at the time of publication.
Olsen said she was inspired to start her online petition when she learned about euthanasia practices from NUVAS and thought about her two cats, both of whom she adopted from animal shelters.
It started a fire in me that I didn’t know I had, “Olsen told 2News.” I have never felt such a deep passion for something in my life. “
Knowing, she said, “that there is a person and a shelter out there who would throw my family members into a gas chamber just – I’m going to stay professional, but that just doesn’t suit me. . ”
She and Beckham have rallied supporters to show up at Orem’s city council meeting on Tuesday and protest the practice. They will meet at 4 p.m. outside City Hall to demonstrate with placards before heading to the meeting, where she said she and Beckham will present to city leaders the names of the 66,827 people who signed her petition.
This is all just to show the city that people care and that it is high time for a change, ”Beckham told 2News.
Since the AVMA updated its euthanasia guidelines, Beckham says, nine bills to end the practice of carbon monoxide euthanasia in Utah have been introduced in nine sessions. consecutive legislative elections, and neither has been voted in the two legislative chambers. Utah is one of four states in the country that has not banned the practice of carbon monoxide euthanasia, according to the Humane Society.
“Meanwhile, year after year this refuge uses this cruel and outdated method,” Beckham said. “It’s unfair that these animals are suffering because our political process is so broken. I think city officials have a responsibility to step up and stop this.”
Beckham encouraged residents of Utah County to contact city council members and mayors and to report to Orem on Tuesday.
“It is important that officials hear from voters on this issue and hear that they want them to change this,” he said.
the Southern Utah Valley Animal Shelter, which serves several towns in southern Utah County, also uses a gas chamber to euthanize the animals. Beckham said he also called city leaders to ask them to take action.
Everyone knows these shelters should not be using this method, “he said.” Anyone in a position of power refuses to take any responsibility here. That’s part of why we’re having this protest on Tuesday. “