People Smash Animal Gas Chamber With Sledgehammer

Smashing an animal gas chamber with a sledgehammer
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

Smashing an animal gas chamber with a sledgehammer. Photo (modified) John Kuntz / The Plain Dealer

March 22 was a big day for the animals at the Medina County (Ohio) Animal Shelter, where a “destruction ceremony” was held in the parking lot of the Medina County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. News, powered by The Plain Dealer, was on-scene, along with more than 40 people who witnessed the destruction of the most barbaric method to kill a once a beloved pet: the gas chamber, which is responsible for the cruel and heinous death of thousands of dogs and cats at the Medina shelter. It was destroyed by 30 people.

The way this came about is nothing short of amazing, because those who destroyed the chamber had to pay for the privilege. The 30 people responsibly for destroying the outdated gas chamber each donated a total of $2,500 to the SPCA to destroy the 20-year old chamber. Extraordinary.

Before the pounding began, those present took a few moments to bow their head in memory of all of the animals who died there. County commissioners made the decision to do what the animal lovers of their jurisdiction wished, namely to destroy the death chamber.

I can imagine the energy running through those who paid to take part. This is something every animal lover likely dreams about. To go out with their favorite tool of destruction and strike down this method of inhumanely killing animals, whose only crime was to be unwanted. No one was considered too young or too old to take a swing at the chamber. After SPCA member Erica Moehring took the first swing at the plexiglass door, members of the community went to work. Norma Houk, 84, brought a sledgehammer, while 66-year-old Doc Wheeler used a Sawzall to cut through the hoses and electrical cords. Noah Holland was the youngest at 8, but said it felt good swinging the sledgehammer.

Although the gas chamber was taken out of use in November 2013, the knowledge that no more animals will be placed inside a box to die a slow, terrifying death caused mixed emotions of tears, joy and sadness. This all came about when last September, News began a controversy when it reported cats were still being killed using the carbon monoxide chamber. Dogs killed by this method was banned several years ago due to public opposition.

The county relinquished the chamber to the SPCA after an anonymous resident donated $10,000 to the SPCA’s cat program. The county commissioners voted to sell the chamber on the internet, but that decision was nixed due to public outcry. So in January, commissioners once again met, agreeing to sell the chamber to the SPCA for $1 plus the amount a scrap yard would give them. CRD Metals, managed by Kevin Willis, arrived Saturday afternoon to haul away the hunk of metal. The employees there are all big animal lovers, and Willis said the SPCA will be given twice what the chamber brings as salvage.

CRD Metals is even going to video the crushing of the chamber into a little metal cube. The video will be given to the SPCA, where director Stephanie Moore will post it on the county website at

There’s one piece of the chamber that was saved, in memory of all the animals who lost their lives inside the death box. Retired police officer Sherry Drescher, of Cincinnati, is in charge of a group determined to eliminate gas chambers everywhere. She’ll be taking the rubber hose back to her Cincinnati home as a trophy to remember those killed. You can learn more about her group at

I wanted to write this article for several reasons. Not only is the banning of the gas chamber needed in every county that still uses it, I like how the county went about this. The idea to have people pay a fee for the privilege, which will overall help the animals in their care, is genius. Personally, I’d LOVE to be part of such an event. Would you? Please leave a comment below.



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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 74-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare. If you want to read more click here.

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31 Responses

  1. Marc says:

    This is one of the most awful and frightening ways to die – those animals in there really were given a few moments of humanities extra special ability to create realities worse than a humanโ€™s worst nightmare and certainly worse than anything an animal is capable of thinking or doing.

  2. Marc says:

    Some GOOD news – how nice. I would also love to smash that thing with all my strength!

  3. Barbara says:

    Absolutely wonderful news. I would have loved to help them with my mallet. But also remembering all the lives lost in the horrible casual killings over the years.

  4. Ruth aka Kattaddorra says:

    I don’t think many animals in kill shelters are ‘once beloved pets’ at all, maybe a few are, but anyone who relinquishes a pet for a flimsy excuse has never loved that pet and mostly the truth is that it’s inconvenient to have the pet around any longer!
    How anyone can walk away leaving their pet to his/her fate is beyond me!

    • Elisa says:

      It would be impossible for me to sleep at night if I didn’t know my cats were safe. I had a friend years ago whose dogs were taken to a shelter after he was found dead of a heart attack. They were very loved until his sudden death. I still keep up with the shelter in Greenville and many many animals are surrendered after owners death. They were loved until their owner died. The owner just didn’t have a backup plan.

    • Good point Ruth. I suppose there are some occasions which are genuine such as the cat caretaker’s sudden death or a cat gets lost but I tend to agree with you.

  5. kylee says:

    Awesume and so they should be smashed, no-one should have the right to gas animals at all. I know that this is happening in nz where they gasing dogs. So i hope they put a stop to it. great article by the way.

  6. Caroline says:

    This is AMAZING. I am so glad that you took the time to report on this, Elisa! It is uplifting.

  7. Elisa says:

    I do believe once beloved fits a lot of these cats and dogs. I’ve now done around 600 articles on shelter pets alone and sometimes the owner dies or goes into a nursing facility or is simply no longer coherent enough to care for their pet. The family carts the animal off to the shelter where the pet is either adopted, rescued or killed.

    As for smashing things, when I was with my ex I kept a supply of glass jars on hand. If he really angered me I’d throw one at the wall behind his head. Sometimes I go outside and throw them against a hundred year old tree in the back yard. It really helped with my anger issues. I’m much better since my relationship is with cats. I don’t have the anger issues anymore because I stay away from people who piss me off.

  8. Susan Gallagher says:

    Must have been really good smashing that thing up – and they probably still got a good scrap price for the remains! But – “once beloved pets”??? Love dosen’t die. Even if the animals were killed this way because they were incurably suffering, the love would go on. Likewise I don’t believe people “fall out of love”, just that they realise they were only infatuated. You either always love someone – human or animal – or you never did!

    • Good point about the โ€œonce beloved pets”. I think this is simply a way of saying things which does not reflect exactly what Elisa meant.

      It is very unusual to see this sort of thing happening. It’s a great way of publicizing, I think, the nasty aspect of animal shelters and it is time that all of these gas chambers were smashed up and then to make further progress by, on a nationwide basis, significantly reducing the number of euthanized shelter cats and dogs.

  9. Ruth aka Kattaddorra says:

    I’d have loved to be there and swung that sledgehammer!
    I’d also love to take all the declawing vets instruments of torture and throw them in a deep pit, but that wouldn’t even be enough because next I’d love to push those declawing vets into that pit too, along with the person who invented gas chambers and all those who ever used one.

    • Dee (Florida) says:

      I love it when you get like this!

      There’s no reason why we can’t have an imaginary pit where each of us can throw down what we hate. It may do us all a world of good.
      I’ll handle Woody.

      • Ruth aka Kattaddorra says:

        lol I usually try to keep my hatred under control but now and again it escapes and I just want revenge on those cruel people and can’t help saying so!
        Yes an imaginary pit is a good idea, when we fill it we can start another one.
        You’d need to wear your wellies and waterproofs when handling Woody ๐Ÿ˜‰

        • Dee (Florida) says:

          You hold him while I fold it in half and wrap a rubberband around it.
          Now, before he gets tossed in the declaw pit, followed by the kill shelter pit, he’ll have to be neutered, have his anal glands expressed, and undergo several tooth extractions.

          • Ruth aka Kattaddorra says:

            lol Dee yes I’m for holding him while you ‘operate’ on him, but ‘fold it in half’ I really don’t think it would be big enough to do that ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • Attagirl! I think I might even do worse than you but unfortunately it would be totally illegal. There is a need for a bit of a revolution in terms of mass cat euthanasia at shelters and de-clawing at veterinary clinics.

  10. Dee (Florida) says:

    I would have been thrilled to be a part of that.
    It would smooth a little of the rage I feel toward kill shelters.
    I’m hoping that, in my lifetime, I can be part of smashing vials of kill drugs, torching “blue rooms”, and bashing cages.

    • Michael Broad says:

      Like you, I would find it very therapeutic. I do have a little bit of pent up rage about mass euthanasia as people may have guessed.

  11. Sarah says:

    Are they confusing carbon dioxide suffocation with carbon monoxide poisoning? Carbon monoxide poisoning is one of the less barbaric methods (hence it’s a favoured method for many suicides because of this) as it causes unconsciousness quickly, whereas carbon dioxide is the slower and more distressing, suffocation method.

    • Good point. As I recall, Sarah, gas chambers like this are normally based on carbon dioxide but that is a point that needs to be checked. I have an article on this subject actually.

      The articles that I’ve read about gassing animals at shelters describe the animals in distress which, therefore, must be carbon dioxide poisoning. However, the original source for the article refers to carbon monoxide. I suppose that even if carbon monoxide is used this is still a chamber of death and mass destruction and that single symbol is enough to make it hated by anybody who likes cats or even who likes animals and who disagrees with the mass destruction of companion animals at so-called shelters.

      Another point that comes to mind is that even if the gas is not going to cause a slowish death or a distressing death there is still the distress of placing many animals in a small container and I sense that the animals sense that this is a dangerous place and something dangerous will happen to them which, no doubt, is highly distressing.

  12. Excellent article and a end to the barbaric method of pet euthanasia in U.S.A.

  13. Fabulous article and wonderful news. It has put me in the mood to smash up something else, all the things I hate and I hate nothing more than these disgusting animal gas chambers that are in the back rooms of some animal โ€œshelters”.

    It’s one of those mysteries of mankind that places which call themselves shelters for animals have a barbaric instrument of death contained within them which have been used thousands of times to put frightened, lonely and distressed animals through the desperate moments of death.

    Thanks Elisa for finding this news story. It does highlight how hated these devices are and I think it also highlights how hated the ongoing killing of animals at shelters is in the United States. Let’s hope this signifies a slight change towards its ending.

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