It seems that the gassing of feral cats still goes on in North America. I thought euthanasia had moved on to more humane methods. The gassing of unwanted animals that people don’t know what to do with seems to me to be a throwback to the 19th century, the early days of cat killing. I say “cat killing” because this is not euthanasia as these cats are not ill, or at least people don’t know if they are ill or not – they don’t care. All they know is they are vicious and uncontrollable, which they will be if they are stuffed into cages and mishandled! The whole process is so narrow minded and human orientated. I realise now that gassing of animals is still widespread. Am I wrong? It is called “tanking” in some facilities.
I am talking about the town of Elliot Lake in Ontario, Canada. Gassing of domestic animals happened routinely until very recently. People objected and signed a petition which obliged the council to stop it. The gas chamber will still be used to kill non-domestic animals as I understand it. That is still very much unacceptable to me. Councillor Chris Patrie says that the local veterinarians will not handle feral cats. That seems extraordinary to me as there are thousands of volunteers in North America who care for feral cats every day. Vets don’t treat wild animals either so if they present a problem in the town they trap and gas them – easy and convenient.
Councillor Chris Patrie also says that there is no point capturing an animal in downtown Elliot Lake and releasing it as it just moves the “problem” from one part of town to another. If he is referring to wild animals why not leave it alone so it can leave town of its own accord or if the animal needs to be captured, release it into the wild? Is that so hard to do?
The judgement as to whether an animal is dangerous is made arbitrarily. How do you decide? If the animal looks vicious – gas it! That seems to be the motto. As I said any animal trapped in a small cage under that criteria is going to look vicious.
One last point, the gassing of animals to death is inhumane. The gases used are usually carbon dioxide or carbon monoxide. Here are some extracts from the firsthand experiences of the gassing by carbon dioxide of a male feral cat by a person who had to do it, Kathryn McCartney.
“I place him, crate and all, into the chamber, closing the plexiglas lid. He immediately starts gasping for air climbing as high as he can in the restricted space. I can only describe his writhing as panic….Using his powerful hind legs, he tries to jump. In this abnormally small space.. he bashes against the top of the crate… Violently struggling and thrashing about in an effort to get a breath of oxygen… In his subsequent writhing he will cover himself with his own feces and urine.. Desperately trying to bite his way through the galvanized metal he clamps his teeth around the bars surrounding him… Claws become dislodged…”
Once dead his jaw had to be broken to release it. The claws had to be cut off to release them too. I hope Kathryn is OK with me publishing this verbatim. I think it is very instructional. The gassing of feral cats is obviously very cruel. But you see, it is cheap and convenient for people to kill cats this way. That is how we, people, like it.
See also: Humanely Euthanize a Cat