I apologize for the long post but this information was sent to me in an e-mail, not via a link. The very condensed version is that we all need to contact the two people at the very bottom of this article by TOMORROW to request they review the proposed regulations and to include that updated equipment is used and that proper training is provided for all employees who euthanize the animals. THANK YOU ALL!!! *** Department of Agriculture Accused of Secretly Gutting Proposed Animal RulesJuly 8, 2008 : 10:56 PM Department evades public scrutiny; Removes humane provisions behind closed doors. Posted with permission by Michele King, Best Friends Network The photo above shows a dump-truck gas chamber at Stokes County Animal Control in Germanton, NC. Thousands of homeless pets die in this rusty box each year, with little hope of being adopted. According to shelter employees, this gruesome contraption has been approved by the NC Department of Agriculture. Press Release from North Carolina Coalition for Humane Euthanasia: For immediate release. July 3, 2008 Today, animal welfare supporters throughout North Carolina called for a legislative review of proposed rules governing euthanasia of dogs and cats at animal shelters in the state. A non-profit animal welfare organization, the North Carolina Coalition for Humane Euthanasia, is opposing last-minute changes made by Department of Agriculture officials that take the teeth out of regulations originally written to ensure the humane treatment of homeless animals. The rules can be found online athttp://ncagr.com/vet/aws/documents/16288.pdf. (*UPDATE...this link has been removed from the N.C. Department of Agriculture website!) A state law passed in 2005 required the Department of Agriculture to establish standards for the care of animals at animal shelters, boarding kennels, pet shops, and public auctions. The law also required that the department adopt rules on the euthanasia of animals and mandate training for any person who participates in the process. This law can be viewed online at http://www.ncleg.net/Sessions/2005/Bills/House/rtf/H685v0.rtf. Two years later, the North Carolina Department of Agriculture released a proposed set of regulations. Thousands of North Carolina citizens responded by submitting verbal and written testimony in opposition to the inhumane and dangerous practice of gassing animals for euthanasia. The Agriculture Department later published a new draft of proposed rules that required a phase out of the gas chamber by 2012. However, the new version of the rules, which has not been published in the North Carolina Register, removes the phase out requirement and lifts restrictions on the use of the gas chamber for sick, injured and geriatric animals. It also eliminates requirements related to training and certification of euthanasia technicians which can cause unimaginable pain to animals being destroyed. Key terms such as "humane" and "lawful" were removed. The Department has violated the public trust by putting one set of rules before the public and then drastically weakening them behind closed doors," said Shari Strader, board member for NCCHE. The Agriculture Department must be held accountable for failing to meet its responsibility to the public and its mandate to develop humane euthanasia standards for animals. North Carolina residents taxes pay for the salaries of state decision makers, as well as funding county shelters and gas chambers. I dont think people realize they are footing the bill for the choices that are being made by the Agriculture Department regarding animal welfare issues and euthanasia methods, states Bobbi Parke, animal advocate. If they only knew half of what is going on in this arena, and that they actually do have a say in choices that are being made for them, they would all immediately contact the Agriculture Department and demand accountability. The rules would also require shelters using gas chambers to purchase new commercial models. Two North Carolina companies supplying gas chambers to shelters have come under fire, after inspections showed that the machines leaked high levels of carbon monoxide and endangered county employees. Three county employees operating gas chambers in North Carolina have died in recent years. A quarter of a million dogs and cats are euthanized in North Carolina animal shelters annually. While most jurisdictions now utilize modern euthanasia practices, more than 30 county facilities continue to use the gas chamber. Extreme animal suffering in the gas chamber is well-documented. These humane concerns were the catalyst for the original rule making process. The question is: why are drastic last minute changes being made, and why are they being made secretly? The NC Rules Review Commission will consider the new version of proposed rules at their July 17 meeting in Raleigh. What You Can Do: Concerned citizens may write letters asking for a legislative review. Letters will be accepted prior to July 17, 2008 at the Office of Administrative Hearings, Rules Review Commission, 1307 Glenwood Avenue, Suite 159, Raleigh, NC 27605. Email the North Carolina Department of Agriculture at Steve.Troxler@ncmail.net and Lee.Hunter@ncmail.net. If your email is returned as "SPAM", please let us know!