Topic: COMMUNITY INTEREST
Be A Voice for The Furangels of Hamilton
One of the most critical responsibilities of those in the animal care and sheltering field is to provide the most humane death possible for companion animals when euthanasia is necessary. In order to be humane, every euthanasia technique must result in painless, rapid unconsciousness, followed by cardiac or respiratory arrest, and ultimately death.
Sheltering personnel must consider many factors when choosing a method of euthanasia. The most important factor, of course, is the humaneness of the method. Other considerations include the number and types of animals handled, the number of employees available, the training available for euthanasia personnel, and legal limitations. Once an acceptable method has been chosen, shelter personnel must carefully maintain euthanasia equipment and keep an accurate inventory of euthanasia drugs to ensure both an adequate supply and the fulfillment of federal and state record-keeping requirements.
It is a binding obligation of shelter administrators to evaluate current euthanasia procedures frequently, ensure that animals are being properly handled, and verify that employees are competent, compassionate, and properly trained. Euthanasia should be entrusted to the most conscientious and qualified personnel only–never to a person who is careless, indifferent to animal suffering, or untrained in animal behavior and euthanasia techniques. Employees must be able to cope emotionally with euthanizing large numbers of animals while maintaining a concern for the well-being of each individual dog or cat.
There has been a lot of press on the recent inspection at the Hamilton Township shelter in Mercer County. The inspection demonstrated numerous infractions. I spoke to vets and to the medical safety department of a pharma company that makes drugs and here is their input.
Input from pharma company…Every drug has an expiration date. The activity of the drug decreases exponentially over time. There are separate drugs for cats and dogs for good reason. Their metabolisms vary. So, a drug made for a dog, may not be best used on a cat. The dose also would be different due to this metabolic difference in the event the same drug was used for a cat and dog. In the event an expired drug was administered to an animal, there is a possibility that the animal could still be alive when sent to incineration or buried. The animal could wake up if the dosage was not correct. The question for the township would be, did anyone document whether the animals woke up during burial or incineration? Is there any documentation that demonstrates this anywhere?
Input from vets…. It depends on the chemicals in the solution whether their shelf life can allow use after expiration. However, the drug may still work somewhat but take a larger quantity to be effective or they wouldn’t be able to use it. The drugs are good for both dogs and cats. The intracardiac stick has always been used, but most vets use a vein to give the solution. Others give a sedative beforehand. It depends on the person doing the procedure. There are only guidelines, no set policy. It differs from clinic to clinic. presently, in most practices, all pets are given sedatives beforehand and IV catheters are used for drug administration. That is the most humane method, so the pets are not stressed or panicked.
The township several years ago disbanded the ethics board. What has happened at the shelter breaks the heart of any pet owner. The residents financed an addition that cost taxpayers $1.1 million dollars. It’s unfathomable how it could be built with a floor that could not be disinfected.
In Jan 2018, a new law on animal cruelty was signed. The new law requires the county prosecutor to establish “within the office of the prosecutor, a county prosecutor animal cruelty task force which would be responsible for animal welfare within the jurisdiction of the county and enforce and abide by the animal cruelty laws of the state.” It also requires all municipalities to have a humane law enforcement officer properly commissioned to enforce the cruelty laws.
In 2017, the executive director of the AHS shelter in Newark was charged with animal cruelty. There are similarities in the inspection reports from the AHS shelter and the report recently published on the Hamilton Shelter.
There needs to be an ethics committee established that immediately optimizes the shelter. Protocols that demonstrate humane methods of animal care need to be established. There also needs to be reviews of the protocols done on an elevated frequency to ensure the safety of the animals. We cannot entrust our leadership to do this. They have failed the animals, they should not be given a second chance to do it again.