Legal Region 8 gas chamber method under fire

MALDEN, MO (KAIT) – A Region 8 woman is trying to get state and local leaders to review a law allowing humane departments to use gas chambers to euthanize animals. Currently, the city of Malden in Dunklin County uses a gas chamber, purchased in 2005. Police Chief Jarrett Bullock said the city receives $15 from other cities to dispose of their stray animals. Bullock said the city obtains $10,000 each year, but he said it doesn't take care of the entire cost.

Sue Bostic, who moved back to Malden in 2008, said she was appalled to learn the city owned a gas chamber.

"The different cities around the rural area will bring their animals to Malden to be gassed, and then they send the money to the city of Malden," said Bostic. "The main thing I want to create is a Dunklin County Humane Volunteer Board and that way we can help out and take the stress off the police department and the humane officer. They're just overworked. They're understaffed because of our funds and I think they need us. I think they need our help."

Bostic said she's obtained multiple city records regarding the city's humane department. She showed one record to Region 8 News, which indicated the city purchased gas chamber from AAI Manufacturing, LLC. The record indicated the city spend $8,562.50. The receipt shows the bill was paid in August of 2005.

"I got online on Facebook and started a petition and the response has been overwhelming. Now I have spoken with the chief of police and the city council and humane officer, they've all been really nice to work with. I think we have a long way to go, but I think we can improve Malden and the city pound," said Bostic. "I was talking to a city council member and I just asked about how the humane department worked because I wanted to volunteer, and she says, well we gas our dogs, and animals."

Bostic is expected to address the Malden City Council Monday night at 7pm at city hall. She said she's looking forward to working with various civic leaders.

"It's not like they take every animal and just gas them. Dogs that are adoptable, they do send to Kennett or other areas," said Bostic. "My chief of police works very closely with Kennett with a woman named Tina. She's been wonderful. They do take dogs there to be adopted as well."

Region 8 News reached out to Bullock Friday afternoon. He said the euthanasia chamber has been paid for and it currently up-to-date. He said the city uses a gas chamber to save money, claiming veterinarians charge $30-50 to euthanize animals by lethal injection.

Bullock said he has no problems with change if the city council decides to take action. He also said the Missouri Department of Agriculture performed an inspection on the dog pound two weeks ago and found only minor problems.

Bullock said the city has had more problems with stray animals. He said the city takes in an average of 20-25 animals every month for euthanasia. While the gas chamber process takes 15 minutes to complete, Bullock said most animals are dead within ten seconds.

"We just have to have it," said Bullock.

"Unfortunately some animals aren't adoptable. Unfortunately some animals have to be put to sleep. I believe a lethal injection is a better alternative," said Bostic. "Some animals that are, if they have rabies or if they're uncontrollable, of course you don't want to touch them, they gas chamber serves its purpose. I understand that. But I think in some cases, if the animal is a pet or it's calm, I don't see any reason to euthanize an animal in the gas chamber."

Bostic showed Region 8 News pictures she claims is of the Malden facility. One picture appears to depict fecal matter inside the euthanasia cage. She said she'd like to see the facility cleaned up.

She said she'd like to change city ordinance and then proceed to state law.

"I would love that, but I had to start somewhere so I started with my hometown, and I have reached out to Jo Ann Emerson. I have written her a personal letter and other representatives as well," said Bostic. "It is a commercial grade gas chamber, which is recommended in the state of Missouri. It's not against the law."

"Unfortunately I had to put a pet down. He was old and suffering and he just went to sleep. It's very sad but I just think that's the only way to go with it. I just think gas chambers should be banned in all states," said Bostic.

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