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.
Cleveland.com 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 The 30 people responsibly for destroying the outdated gas chamber each donated a total of $2,500 to the SPCA to destroy the 20-year old chamber.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, Cleveland.com 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 medinacountyspca.com.
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 BantheGasBoxOhio.org.
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.