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Ban on gas chambers for animal euthanasia likely won't advance this year

Stacie Scott, Deseret News

Ban on gas chambers for animal euthanasia likely won't advance this year

By Ryan Morgan | Posted - Mar. 5, 2017 at 2:47 p.m.



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SALT LAKE CITY — A proposal to prevent animal shelters from using gas chambers for euthanasia likely won't get a vote in Utah House before the 2017 Legislature ends at midnight Thursday.

SB56, passed by the Senate last month with a 19-7 vote, stalled last week on a tie vote in the House Government Operations Committee.

West Valley Animal Services Director Dave Moss said despite the carbon monoxide gas chamber's limited use — less than 1 percent of euthanasia cases — the are cases when it's needed.

Moss said some regulation would be necessary for improper uses of a gas chamber, but it should be dealt with on a case-by-case basis.

"Do some officers use a gun wrong, or a Taser or an ASP (baton)? Yes, they do, but we don’t take that away from everybody," he told the committee Friday.

The bill received weakened support from one of its strongest supporters, the Humane Society of Utah, after an amendment struck key wording from the bill.

Executive Director Gene Baierschmidt said the Humane Society supported the unamended version of the bill but became conflicted after one word, "not," which clearly describes a ban of gas chambers for animal euthanasia, was striken from the bill, allowing counties to use their preference in cases of euthanasia.

Rep. Norm Thurston, R-Provo, said the amendment would allow for a compromise and move the issue in the direction of banning gas chambers.

Baierschmidt offered his own compromise, requesting that cats and dogs not be euthanized via gas chamber, while allowing shelters to handle wild animals by whatever method they felt needed to be used until a time when gas chamber methods could be more effectively phased out.

The committee failed to pass the amended bill forward on a 4-4 tie.

Deann Shepherd, of the Humane Society of Utah, expressed concerns about the future of the bill with few days remaining for the Legislature to take action.

Shepherd said there would be continued interest in the measure, even if the bill did not pass this session.

"We will keep chipping away at this," she said.

Ryan Morgan

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