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Animal activists are upset over a new pet shelter that's planning to build a carbon monoxide euthanasia chamber. The West Valley City Animal Shelter broke ground just last month, and already there's opposition to a part of the building.
Activists have started an e-mail campaign aimed at preventing the chamber's construction. While some people argue carbon monoxide euthanasia is a step backward, others say it's just as painless as a lethal injection, and it's legal.
Animal lover and rescue volunteer Marylin Segall said, "Given that there must be euthanasia, we at least want it to be done humanely."
Segall doesn't believe a carbon monoxide euthanasia chamber is humane. That's why she's started an e-mail campaign asking people to oppose West Valley's plans.
"I've sent it out to very few people, maybe 20 or 30 and it has grown exponentially, which I think says a lot," she said.
Segall says it's gone to more than 700 people. In it she says, though a legal form of euthanasia, "This is not a quick, painless or humane death for our animals."
Temma Martin with the Utah Animal Adoption Center agrees. "Hearing now that a brand new shelter that should be progressive and state-of-the-art is choosing to use a form of euthanasia that's not the most professional and the preferred method is very disappointing," she said.
The Animal Services Operation director said in a statement that they plan to use this method only when the animals are diseased, dangerous or feral and can't be handled by workers. But the Humane Society of the United States believes it's always unacceptable to use carbon monoxide for dogs and cats who are geriatric, under 4 months old, pregnant or sick or injured.
Martin says the majority of the Salt Lake Valley shelters still use carbon monoxide. She says gas chamber euthanasia is less expensive in the long run, compared to injections, because the staff needs to constantly be trained, and that may be why it's used.
The Animal Services Operations director wasn't available to talk on camera, but over the phone he said until someone can prove that gas chamber euthanasia is painful, he doesn't plan on stopping construction.
The shelter is scheduled to open next August.
E-mail: ngonzales @ksl.com