Hundreds turn out for rally to end pet gas chamber use in PA

Two hundred animal lovers turned out in Malvern on Sunday for a rally to end the practice of gassing shelter pets in Pennsylvania.

The rally, hosted by Sen. Andy Dinniman (D., Chester), was aimed at focusing attention on his bill (SB 1329) to ban the use of gas chambers in shelters. Currently, there are four shelters, all in western Pennsylvania, that gas unwanted animals, Dinniman said.

The bill has 35 co-sponsors, well over the number needed for legislation to pass in the state Senate. The only known opposition comes from the Pennsylvania Veterinary Medical Society. An official said in an email that the group has resons it "cannot support the bill," but did not say why, nor did it respond to requests for an explanation.

Other veterinary medical societies oppose the use of carbon monoxide to destroy animals, saying it is inhumane.

Gas chambers can be a slow, highly traumatic form of torture, they say.

Animals are randomly shoved in metal boxes that are filled with gas. The process can take up to half an hour depending on the age and health of the animals, forcing them to endure a long and terrifying demise. 

The death method is hardly full proof. Take the rally's featured guest, Daniel the beagle, who survived a gassing at an Alabama shelter and turned up alive in a landfill. The outpouring of emotion over Daniel's surprising survival helps refocus efforts to end gassing, Dinniman said. [Alabama's legislature voted to outlaw gas chambers this year but the law had yet to take effect.]

The vast majority of shelters here and throughout the U.S. euthanize pets by injection.

Among the speakers Sunday was another of Harrisburg's top animal crusaders, Rep. Curt Schroder (R., Chester), who attended with his greyhound, Kitty.

More on Sunday's rally from The Daily Local.

(Photo: Sen. Andy Dinniman, his poodle Henry in tow, gets a kiss from Daniel the beagle.)