The Bristow Animal Shelter in Oklahoma City is receiving a good amount of backlash when residents discovered that it euthanizes unclaimed animals, so far particularly dogs, through a messy and an arguably painful way: gunshot.
What could be worse is that Bristow’s mayor, Leonard Washington, confirmed these allegations, citing that this form of euthanasia is legal by local law. He further cites the law, stating that cities with a population under 10,000 are allowed to euthanize animals “in a humane, acceptable way,” but it does not specifically define its “humane” standards. In the last week, 3 dogs—one of them a pitbull—have already been put down via gunshot.
The law appears to justify the fact that the Bristow Animal Shelter is the only shelter operating within the town, which has a population of 4,000. The shelter has only one animal controller among their staff.
Naturally, animal rights activists of Bristow and a number of concerned residents jumped into action by trying to raise awareness about the issue, but they have been turned away. They resorted to social media, putting up a petition at Change.org; as of this writing, about 1,800 supporters have signed it. These supporters see an apparent need to stop Oklahoma and the shelter from gunning down dogs which have not been claimed or adopted after a long period of time.
The petition is still ongoing, and the Oklahoma Alliance for Animals is holding on for a favorable response.
Now, the mayor may have explained that the main objective was to find homes for these shelter dogs, but allowing euthanasia through gunshot, which National Animal Control and welfare organizations condemn, only brings the same objective two steps backward.
The Change.org petitioners tried to present an alternative of hiring a licensed vet to euthanize the animals by using intravenous injection of sodium pentobarbital. This chemical is mainly approved for euthanasia, as a peaceful and painless death for the animal is assured. In fact, it relaxes the animal as it gently breathes its last.
However, there will always be opposition, as other residents don’t see the need for a change about putting animals under the gun, and hiring a vet could only bring about financial burden.
While gunshot is indeed a highly questionable method, it has been used on rare occasions and only under dire circumstances when the animal is gravely injured and suffering, and not vet who can administer intravenous injection is in sight.
Furthermore, while there were no reports that the gunned down dogs have been suffering from grave injuries in any way, it’s very likely that these dogs were healthy, and the shelter was simply finding a solution to animal overcrowding in their facilities.
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