Advocates make call for new euthanasia method.


First Posted: 1/15/2009

LUMBERTON — Robeson County Health Department officials on Thursday found themselves defending euthanasia procedures used at the county pound.
Faith Walker, a Robeson County resident and advocate for animals, and Peter MacQueen, president of the Humane Society of Eastern North Carolina, raised questions about euthanasia at the Board of Health’s monthly meeting. They said they prefer a less-painfull method than is currently.
“How animals are euthanized means a great deal,” Walker told the board. “It is the last act of kindness that can be shown to an animal.”
Currently, intracardiac injection — shots that are made directly into the heart — is how animals at the county pound are put to death. The animals have been sedated when they are given the injection.
Although intracardiac injection is an accepted form of euthanasia, intravenous injection is preferred by animal welfare groups and the state because it is considered less painful for the animal.
“This (intracardiac injection) is an acceptable way of euthanizing animals,” said Bill Smith, the county’s health director. “It meets all state regulations.”
Smith added after the meeting that the county opts for intracardiac injection because it is quicker and requires fewer personnel to administer than does intravenous euthanasia.
Despite documentation from local veterinarian Curt Locklear that disputes his claim, MacQueen insisted that pound employees have not had proper training in euthanizing procedures. MacQueen also charged that shelter employees lack training in overall pound management procedures.
“This department, like all others in the county, should be run with expertise,” MacQueen said. “If the people out there (at the pound) are not trained, and there is a lack of supervision, how are they supposed to know what to do?”
While acknowleging that conditions at the county pound are better than several years ago, Walker said that there are still problems that need to be addressed.
“We are going backwards in some respects,” she said. “There are practices that need to change … All I care for is that these animals receive the care they are required to get by law.”
Albert Locklear, the county’s environmental health supervisor, defended conditions at the pound and praised the way the facility is being operated by Manager Jeff Bass.
“It would be great if we could do everything perfectly,” he said. “We operate within the parameters we have at the time … we are trying to run the shelter the best we can. Jeff is doing the best he can with the cards he has been dealt.”
Walker also called on the Health Board to look into revising the county’s animal control ordinance. The ordinance has not been updated since 1990.
“We would be happy to provide you assistance,” she told the board. “You could appoint a citizens committee to work with the animal control department to improve the care of animals in the county.”
Tom Taylor, the Health Board’s chairman, told Walker the board would take her suggestion for a citizens committee under advisement.
“We have never had a citizens committee oversee a department,” Smith said.
In other animal-related issues:
— Woody Bowen, president of the Robeson County Humane Society, asked the board to consider not charging his organization the $25 county fee charged for adopting animals from the county pound.
“This would make it possible for us to take more of the adoptable animals from the pound,” he said. “We could be there as another resource for you, rather than you having to take another animal down.”
No decision was made on the request. Taylor, however, told Bowen that if the fee were waived for the Humane Society, others who were adopting animals would want the fee waived.
— Walker requested that applications for participation in the N.C. Spay Neuter Program be made more easily available to the public. Currently, applications can only be obtained for one hour on two days during the week at the Health Department.

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