ROCK SPRINGS – For the past nine months, Madhu Anderson and Eve J. Waggoner have been raising awareness and bringing in support to ban the use of gas chambers to euthanize animals at the Rock Springs Animal Control.
After holding up signs Thursday afternoon outside Rock Springs City Hall, Anderson and Waggoner believe if they bring in enough support and have people call the mayor’s office and the RSAC to complain, then maybe they can halt this practice.
Anderson said shelters in Casper and Cody do not use gas chambers to euthanize feral cats or aggressive dogs, but instead use a more humane method by injecting the animals with sodium pentobarbital. She said this injection goes right into the bloodstream and directly into the heart for a quick and painless death.
In order to use this method, one must first be certified. According to Anderson who has spoken to veterinarians out at Mountainaire Animal Clinic, it doesn’t take much to do so.
“It only takes a six-hour class, and just about anyone can get certified,” she said. “Even Mike Kiggins, the Rock Springs Animal Control supervisor is certified to inject the animals, but still uses the gas chamber method.”
Rock Springs Police Chief Dwane Pacheco, who spoke with the women during their protest, said, “The RSAC does its absolute best to adopt every animal out before having to move ahead with this practice.”
“The only animals we euthanize are feral cats and vicious or aggressive dogs.” he said. “In fact, we have one of the few spay neuter programs in the state. We budget almost $25,000 a year. Almost all of our animals that we adopt are altered as they go out the door without any cost by the person who adopts them. Over time, we have actually seen our numbers lowered in the animals that we have strays ... so it is working.”
Pacheco and other city employees have said they use the gas chambers when the safety of staff is a concern.
Anderson, who has previously volunteered at the RSAC, would like to see the facility become a no-kill shelter.
“I understand not all animals are going to be saved, but even for feral cats and vicious dogs, the more humane way to put them down is to use injection, not the gas chambers,” she said.
Moving forward, both Anderson and Waggoner plan to keep protesting to raise awareness about the issue.
“We got a lot of honks and thumbs-up along the way, so I know we have a strong support group.” Anderson said. “We encourage people to keep calling in and hopefully we can all work together to ban all uses of gas chambers.”
Wyoming is one of four states in the United States that still uses the gas chamber method to euthanize animals. The other three are Utah, Missouri and Idaho.