Animal Control: The Gas Chamber

BRUNSWICK CO. -- When WECT's Sarah Warlick did a memorable report earlier this month on what happens to unwanted dogs and cats, we promised not to let the story fade away.

You may remember Sweet Pea, the pit bull that was found roaming the streets of New Hanover County with an electrical cord around her neck. She was held at the shelter in case her owners were looking for her, but there was no luck.

We then showed Sweet Pea being put to sleep by lethal injection, a fate thousands of dogs and cats in our area face every year.

Viewer response to that story was overwhelming. Some suggested we take a closer look at the gas chamber that is used in Brunswick County. Shelter employees know the method is highly controversial, but they say the main reason for the euthanasia chamber is the sheer volume of animals that pass through the facility each year. Some of them run the risk of infection and disease that could be passed onto the workers. If an animal has the potential to put a staff member at risk, they use the chamber instead of lethal injection.

Our cameras were not allowed inside the gas chamber, but Sarah was able to stand outside the door as a dog was being put down. The animal yelped and made an effort to get out of his crate. Some animal shelter employees think the gas chamber is the more humane way of putting down animals, but admit they don't like to euthanize animals at all.

Until there are enough homes and responsible owners, animals will be put down, one way or the other.

Reported by Sarah Warlick