A reminder of old policies that meant a horrible as well as frightening death to the unwanted shelter pets will soon be gone at Columbus County Animal Control, located in Whiteville, North Carolina. One goal of this rural facility is to take the word “kill” out of the description, which killed an average of 100 animals on a monthly basis in 2006. The gas chamber is coming down!
Shelter Manager Joey Prince said the gas chamber that was used to kill thousands of animals over the course of decades will soon be dismantled and discarded. The chamber hasn’t been used for years, Prince said, and was partially disassembled some time ago. Chambers were used widely across the country for decades. Animals were placed in the sealed metal and concrete box, then carbon monoxide was pumped inside, asphyxiating the animals. Death could sometimes take several minutes.
Although the remaining structure is primarily just empty masonry blocks, Prince said the chamber serves no purpose except to remind staff and visitors of how unwanted animals were once euthanized. The space it now takes up will be used for much-needed storage. The Columbus County Maintenance Department will handle the removal of the chamber.
The chamber was last used around 2007, and shelters were banned by state law in 2014 from using it as a means of euthanasia except for in extreme cases.
Dogs, cats, and other animals have been put to sleep by lethal injection since the chamber was shut down. Thankfully, Prince said, improved adoption rates have significantly reduced the number of animals put down at the shelter.
Joey and his staff and volunteers (especially those who work tirelessly on the Facebook pages Urgent Adoptable Cats, CCAC, Whiteville, NC and Dogs of Columbus County NC A/C – Volunteer page, have turned one of the worst shelters in North Carolina into a shelter the Columbus County community can be proud of.
Fewer than 30 adoptable dogs and cats have been euthanized at the shelter this year, most of which were put down due to the animal being either severely injured or very sick. It is now rare than an animal is put down due to overcrowding.
“We’re pleased that we’re able to network with animal welfare groups to re-home nearly every adoptable animal that comes through the shelter,” he said. “The emphasis still needs to be on spaying and neutering, but reducing the euthanasia rate is a major accomplishment. I’m proud of the hard work of our staff, local volunteers and on-line rescue pages to make this happen.”
“On the rare occasions an animal has to be put down,” Prince said, “it’s only responsible to do so in as humane a way as possible. The chamber was never a humane method, but it was sadly the industry standard for years. We’re proud that we can take this next step forward in protecting and helping both animals and the citizens of our county.”
“Tearing down the remains of the chamber is just a gesture,” he said, “but it’s an important one.” Work is scheduled to begin Thursday afternoon.
I don’t know about all of you, but I LOVE to hear the gas chambers are being dismantled and destroyed. It makes me nervous for them to be in a shelter, even though they’re not being used.
Thank you Columbus County!