Dinniman blames Corbett for gas chamber bill changes

What happened to the bill banning the use of gas chambers in animal shelters in Pennsylvania?

The legislation cleared a major hurdle last month, passing unanimously in the Senate after years of failed attempts to bring similar bills to the Senate floor.

But stripped from the bill (SB 1329) was a provision creating the position of licensed euthanasia technician that would have allowed non-vets to adminster lethal drugs - something that, by the way, goes on in many shelters already.

The lack of veterinarians in rural areas was the reason four shelters continued to use carbon monoxide gas in the first place.

The bill would have provided training for these individuals, given them access to drugs and established state oversight.

The bill's lead sponsor, Sen. Andy Dinniman (D., Chester), laid the blame at the feet of the Corbett administration.

"The governor wasn't going to approve a bill with new fees," said Dinniman in a recent interview. "You would have to apply to be a euthanasia technician. Every technician in every vet's office would have to be licensed. It would require supervision from the state and that would require fees. They made an eleventh-hour change."

Dinniman said under the current bill, that was sent to the state House for approval, it will be up to the shelters to find an alternative to gassing.

"Our concern is that the dogs not suffer," said Dinniman. "If it's creating more work for shelters too bad. They can go raise money. It's the cost of being humane."

Dinniman's bill is called "Daniel's Law" for the Alabama beagle who miraculously survived a trip to the gas chamber and is now living with a family in New Jersey. We might add Alabama - hardly the most progressive state in the union - recently joined 17 other states that outlaw the use of gas chambers.

Perhaps Pennsylvania vets could come to the shelter and offer to train technicians at no cost?

Calling the Pennsylvania Veterinary Medical Society: Any volunteers?

Maybe not. The American Veterinary Medical Association believes carbon monoxide gas is an acceptable way to euthanize cats and dogs.

Meanwhile, Dinniman says he will fight on to try "to get a more humane approach to euthanasia" in Pennsylvania shelters.

"The shelters are concerned about the inconvenience?" said Dinniman. "We're going to shut the chambers down."

(Photo/Animal Law Coalition)