8/13/2014 6:08:00 AM,
Jeff D. Gorman
(CN) - An Ohio county is not allowed to euthanize dogs in a homemade gas chamber, a state appeals court ruled.
The ruling comes in an action that the Ohio Society for the Prevention of Cruelty of Animals had filed with the Fourth Appellate District for the Ohio Court of Appeals against the Hocking County Board of County Commissioners.
Though Hocking euthanizes dogs with a carbon monoxide inhalant in a "homemade" gas chamber, the society said that the American Veterinary Medical Association does not accept this method of euthanasia as humane.
The society instead wanted the county to use euthanasia by injection (EBI) and demanded summary judgment.
Hocking contended that issues of fact exist over whether the gas chamber meets the requirement for a dog to be knocked unconscious before death.
The society's chemistry expert, Dr. David Manuta, said that gassing was acceptable if it was performed in a properly constructed and maintained chamber. He said the Hocking County chamber did not meet those standards.
Hocking's dog warden, Donald Kiger, testified that the chamber was not commercially manufactured. A dog enters the chamber and carbon monoxide is pumped in for one minute. After a 20-minute wait, an exhaust fan runs for 20 more minutes before the dog's vital signs are checked.
While a dog usually drops to the floor during the 60-second period, Kiger testified, they sometimes continue to whine after the first minute.
Kiger also testified that a broken floor drain and a lack of sealant on the floor and walls meant that the gas chamber was not airtight when the society's expert checked it.
Former assistant dog warden Chris Vickers stated in an affidavit that after 60 seconds he heard dogs "screaming like they had been hit by a car and injured."
Vickers also said that the dead dogs' bodies would have blood, urine, feces, vomit and bite marks on them. The blood and bite marks were found when multiple dogs were fighting with each other while being gassed.
Sometimes, Vickers testified, the process would take several minutes or fail completely.
While Kiger said that gassing the dogs was humane, Vickers said the method was inhumane, cruel and painful.
The Chillicothe-based appellate court sided with the animal activists last month.
While Kiger said that he added sealant to the chamber since Manuta's inspection, he did not testify that it is airtight, according to the 22-page ruling.
"Not only do respondents lack a commercial-grade air-tight carbon monoxide chamber, but their personnel lack a metering system to monitor the concentration of carbon monoxide in the chamber to determine if it rapidly achieves a uniform carbon monoxide concentration of at least 6 percent after the dog is placed in the chamber," Administrative Judge Marie Hoover wrote for the court.
Evidence shows meanwhile that the EBI method can render a dog unconscious in three to five seconds.
"Therefore, we find that EBI immediately and painlessly renders the dog initially unconscious and subsequently dead and is a humane form of euthanasia," Hoover wrote.