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Altus considering change in euthanasia of animals

ALTUS, Okla_The City of Altus is considering changing the way animals are euthanized. Since 1989, the city has relied on a gas chamber located at the animal shelter to put the animals down but officials say for years they have been questioned if that method caused the animals to suffer less pain than lethal injection.

Tuesday night, the city council heard from several members in the community on the subject.

Councilman Rick Henry said they still have more facts to gather. He said the city recently reached out to the three veterinarians in Altus to get their thoughts on the most cost effective way to euthanize these animals.

Altus veterinarian John Thomas said first hand experience has shown him the Altus gas chamber method is humane.

"The chamber is safe to the people that operate it, the dogs do not show panic response in there, they are individually caged. They're not put in there crowded together. The concentration in there is hyper concentration and therefore death is quick, the animals just simply lie down, go to sleep and die."

But Altus veterinarian Charles Freeman said while carbon monoxide may be a legal method of euthanasia for cities and municipalities, it should be changed.

"I believe that a city the size of Altus that has the resources that it has should use a better method. The public perception with euthanasia with carbon monoxide is not a pretty one. You must remember public perception becomes reality."

City Councilman Rick Henry said city officials recently sent out bids to find out which vet conduct their lethal injections and how much it will cost but no responses yet.

"I know that the lethal injection people are upset we didn't make a decision and they think they lost, I don't think so. We're trying to figure out our facts first."

Another question will be are the animals going to be transported by animal control to the vet performing the euthanasia or should the vet go the animal shelter and if the vet does come down, where would the city house the euthanasia drugs.

"It looks like to me it would be easier to pull a vet clinic and let them handle it and let the veterinarian and his staff handle it."

Animal control said they wouldn't mind seeing the gas chamber removed from the animal shelter.

Henry said right now the city has no idea when the decision will be made, they are still exploring cost options.

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