Shelter Reform Advocacy in Medina Co, Ohio – Week 2

Medina County animal advocate Casey Post once again addressed the public meeting of her county commissioners this week.  She graciously agreed to my request to publish the text of her comments.  I hope others might be inspired to consider public speaking on behalf of animals being needlessly killed at their local pounds.

Today, I’d like to advocate for the workers at Medina County Animal Shelter.

It has been said here that the American Veterinary Medical Association approves of using the gas chamber to euthanize cats. That’s… almost true.  What they actually said is this –

“Carbon monoxide can be used effectively for euthanasia when required conditions for administration can be met. These conditions can be challenging and costly to meet on a practical basis, and there is substantial risk to personnel if safety precautions are not observed.”

And they do remind you that a shelter worker in Tennessee was killed when the gas chamber at his shelter malfunctioned not too long ago.

They go on to say, “Consequently, carbon monoxide is acceptable with conditions for use in institutional situations where appropriately designed and maintained equipment and trained and monitored personnel are available to administer it, but it is not recommended for routine euthanasia of cats and dogs.”

Not recommended.

One of the many listed conditions for safe and humane operation of the gas chamber is – and I quote –

“The chamber must be well lighted and must allow personnel direct observation of animals.”

Direct observation.  Why is that?  Because staff are supposed to WATCH as the cats die to ensure that the gas chamber is working properly.

The employees of Medina County Animal Shelter have been expected to take a cat entrusted to their care, feed him, water him, and make certain that he has clean bedding every day for seven days.  In the course of this, they handle the cat every single day, picking him up, holding him against their chest, moving him from his old cage to a clean one.  Maybe giving him a little scritch by his ear to reassure him.

At the end of those seven days, they are expected to take that cat out of his cage, place him in the gas chamber, and watch him die.  Then, they are expected to pick up his limp body, bring it to the incinerator, and burn it… and do this over, and over, and over again.

What kind of effect does this have on a man?  To watch animals that were in his care only moments ago, struggle for air, gasp their last breath and fall lifeless on the floor?  What does this DO to a man’s heart?  To his soul?  To his MIND?

The American Veterinary Medical Association comments on this, too and reminds you that shelter workers who kill animals on a regular basis are at risk for what’s called compassion fatigue.

Symptoms of compassion fatigue are inability to concentrate, sleep disturbance, anxiety, emotional withdrawal, avoidance of certain tasks, isolation from coworkers, irritability, feelings of helplessness, denial, blaming others, anger, nightmares, and even flashbacks.  It can lead to excessive drinking, drug abuse, and other self-destructive behaviors.  Compassion fatigue can cause physical health issues and burnout.

I contend that the avoidable killing of over 250 cats per year is highly detrimental to the health and well-being of the people at Medina County Animal Shelter.  The fact that alternatives to the killing existed, yet were never explored, makes the human cost here all the more tragic.  Our shelter workers deserve better than to risk their safety with a gas chamber while conducting an avoidable task that will eat away at their mental health.

For the sake of the people who work there, I ask that the Medina County Animal Shelter stop accepting cats immediately.

This simple step will reduce the killing and the stress that comes with it by 85%.

Because the gas chamber is used exclusively for cats, it will reduce any risk associated with using a gas chamber by 100%.

It is wrong to continue to unnecessarily risk the mental and physical health of the shelter employees.

Right now, the Medina County Animal Shelter needs to function as a dog only shelter for the sake of the people who work there.

Read how Ms. Post became motivated to speak publicly here.

Read her first speech to the county commissioners here.

Leave a comment

8 Comments

  1. Willie

     /  November 7, 2013

    Sooooooooooooooooo . . . just let the cats die on the street? Not that they should die at all, but there MUST be some other answer. This proposal exhausts MY compassion fatigue!!!

    Reply
    • This is not your first visit to the blog. Trolling is not allowed here. One time warning.

      Reply
    • Casey Post

       /  November 7, 2013

      Willie, let me clarify –
      This shelter does not scan cats for microchips.
      This shelter has no stray hold time for cats – the moment a cat comes into the shelter with the $10 surrender fee, the cat belongs to the shelter and they can sell him or kill him as they see fit.
      The shelter does not take photos of the cats and they do not post them on the web as “found”, “available”, or anything else. In fact, they seem to want to keep it quiet that they even have cats.
      This shelter kills more than half the cats that come in and tries to justify by saying that 30% of them are feral. (Which should make you go, “???”).
      I have been trying for months to convince the shelter to just post their cats online. They “don’t have time”.

      This shelter needs to be out of the cat business altogether.

      I had hoped that by bringing in the human cost to the discussion, the commissioners might be moved to change how things are done. So far, no luck. Apparently, county workers’ health and safety means nothing to these people. At least until one of them goes off the rails from compassion fatigue – then it’s all, “we had no idea”, and “we thought he was fine”.

      Kill shelters are bad for people.

      Reply
  2. A couple of decades ago, a dear friend worked as a vet technician in a small rural community. The vet also was the local “pound”, with only a few animals there at a time. She took some animals home and placed them herself. Part of the vet’s job was to euthanize dogs and cats after holding for a specified period with no owner forthcoming and no placements, and my friend assisted during those times. She almost had a nervous breakdown over this and wound up quitting her job. She was a country girl and handled death well under ordinary circumstances, but not when it came to killing animals that could have been someone’s pet. I cannot imagine the emotional toll it takes for shelter employees to do this multiple times a day.

    Reply
  3. vida

     /  November 7, 2013

    This an inspiring speech, you have a lot of talent and are using it to do good, doesn’t get better than that.

    Reply
  4. HARSHER ANIMAL/MAMMAL CRUELTY LAWS SO SEVERE TELEVISED WORLDWIDE IS THE ONLY CHANCE WE HAVE TO END THIS CYCLE OF ABUSE GOING NO WHERE BUT INCREASED AND STOP BREEDING UNTIL WE FIND HOMES FOR ALL WAITING TO BE LOVED, TOGETHER WE CAN BUILD A BRIGHTER FUTURE FOR THESE INNOCENT BY STANDERS THAT HAVE BEEN REJECTED ABUSED ABONDONED PLEASE SIGN PETITION AT CAUSES FOR HARSHER ANIMAL CRUELTY LAWS WORLDWIDE PLEASE

    Reply
  1. What to do if the "humane society" isn't so humane? | Parenting Answers

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