Although most animal lovers are aware of the millions of animals killed in shelters every year, many don’t know that gas chambers remain legal in the majority of US states. This cruel and ineffectual euthanization method results in as many as 1 in 20 dogs surviving the gassing only to die slowly from its effects.
Kim Kavin, author of the new book "Little Boy Blue: A Puppy's Rescue from Death Row and his Owner's Journey for Truth," discovered that her dog Blue (pictured here) was rescued from a high-kill facility that used the gas chamber.
Kavin’s research for the book uncovered more than 40 animal control centers that are using gas chambers, the majority of them in North Carolina with 22 facilities, followed by Michigan.
“When I combined the budgets, they revealed that Americans are spending nearly $15 million tax dollars per year to fund shelters that kill dogs in gas chambers. "Little Boy Blue" is the first time this statistic has ever been compiled or reported.”
Pennsylvania, Ohio, Louisiana, and Alabama are also believed to have a handful apiece, says Kavin, who had to use Freedom of Information Act requests to obtain taxpayer-funded budgets of those 40+ municipalities that have gas chambers.
As the award-winning journalist began to dig into Blue’s background, she learned, “Most people are completely unaware, including in the places where the chambers are used regularly. When I was in Person County, North Carolina, where Blue was found, I asked everyone I met—waitresses at the diner, people at the gas station, and so forth—whether they knew that their local animal control center had a gas chamber. Not a single person said yes. And they were standing just a few miles away from it.” Kavin set about educating the public.
According to Kavin, the 22 states where it is not legal to kill a dog in a gas chamber are:
Alabama (new law in the process of taking effect)
Louisiana (new law in the process of taking effect)
“If your state is not on that list, then it is legal to kill a shelter dog in a gas chamber in your state. It is not necessarily happening, but it is still legal,” she says.
This new book highlights legal battles in North Carolina and Pennsylvania, “where gas-chamber bans failed to pass because of lobbyists from farming organizations, county commission organizations, and veterinary organizations. The book also explains how national-level groups are still struggling to get legislation passed at that level. Resistance is fierce from some very well-connected and well-funded lobbyists,” says the New Jersey journalist.
Kavin first saw Blue on Petfinder, and today she’s pleased that a portion of the sales of "Little Boy Blue" are being donated to help the Petfinder Foundation. Within the past year, Kavin has fostered 18 dogs and urges spay and neuter as well as adoption. “The only way to end the use of gas chambers on a practical level is to keep the dogs out of the shelters in the first place.”