As reported by ABC4 News, North Utah Valley Animal Shelter (NUVAS) will end the use of a carbon monoxide gas chamber to kill animals!
Since 2019, more than a thousand dogs and cats had met this cruel fate at NUVAS. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has long condemned the use of gas chambers to kill animals in shelters, as this method results in a prolonged death that is less humane than the more common method of euthanasia by injection.
For many years, UARC had been one of several animal advocacy organizations working to ban gas chamber killing in Utah animal shelters. Earlier this year, a ban failed to pass the Utah state legislature for the ninth year in a row. We knew had to change our approach and innovate.
UARC pioneered a new strategy. Working on the local level, we wrote hundreds of letters and emails to city council members and mayors in all of the towns that had contracts with NUVAS. We testified at city council meetings and had dozens of phone conversations with these key decisionmakers, urging them to take action to change their contract prohibiting this cruel method of killing. Thousands of UARC supporters also took action, making their voices heard.
UARC also filed state open records requests, to obtain intake records, euthanasia logs, and photographs of the individual animals who were killed in the gas chamber. UARC used this information to amplify the stories of victims of gas chamber killing, so they no longer died unseen and unheard. On our social media and in printed postcards that we distributed to the public, we shared pictures of animals who had been killed in the gas chamber at NUVAS, like Conway, pictured below.
In June, dozens of UARC supporters protested outside Orem City Hall. Inside the City Council meeting, a former worker at NUVAS gave compelling testimony of her traumatic experiences operating the gas chamber at NUVAS, captivating everyone in the room. UARC member Erica Olsen unfurled a gigantic “scroll” with the names of more than ten thousand Utahns who signed an online petition against gas chamber killing. Our petition was so large it couldn’t even fit in council chambers!
UARC’s protest made an impression. The following month, Orem Mayor Richard Brunst publicly opposed the use of the gas chamber and suggested he would soon intervene if the shelter didn’t make a change. Orem is the largest town that has a contract with NUVAS, so this was the first major domino to fall in our victorious campaign. Soon after, NUVAS Director Tug Gettling announced at an August 2021 meeting of the NUVAS Board of Directors that the shelter was beginning of the process of transitioning to euthanasia by injection. Gettling’s decision came as a result of extensive research he conducted into the matter, which culminated in a thorough report that he circulated to the board.
UARC’s new strategy worked — but we aren’t finished. There is still one shelter left in Utah that kills animals using this cruel and outdated method of euthanasia: South Utah Valley Animal Shelter (SUVAS), located in Spanish Fork. SUVAS serves a number of towns in southern Utah County, including Payson, Provo, Santaquin, Spanish Fork, and Springville. Once UARC wins again and this shelter stops gas chamber killing, the practice will be extinguished, statewide.