Tift County animal shelter comes under fire - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Tift County animal shelter comes under fire

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March 16, 2007

Tift County - - Tift County's Animal Shelter is making headlines for using a gas chamber to euthanize animals. Georgia law banned the practice in 1990, but the shelter's director says she never knew it was against the law to use the gas chambers.

Animal Control picks up stray animals regularly. Due to the high number of unclaimed animals, many of them have to be euthanized because there's not enough room in the shelter to house all of them.

Now former state representative Chesley Morton of DeKalb County is suing the state's agriculture commissioner for allowing it to happen. In response to the lawsuit in Fulton County Superior Court, Irvin says he's not violating the law. He says it's not his job to tell animal shelters how to put down animals.

We went to Tift animal shelter Friday for comment. They wouldn't speak on the issue since they're involved in the litigation. Our calls to the shelter's attorney went unreturned. But people in Tifton have a lot to say about the shelter using the gas chamber.

"That's cruelty. They shouldn't be doing all that. If they're going to do all of that, they might as well shoot them with a gun and be done with it. That's just pure torture to the dogs," says Kevin Godwin.

"I didn't see a problem, because it was illegal. Anything illegal I guess is a problem," says Annette Sandifer.

"To me that's just like when you put a human to sleep, just give them legal injection instead of putting them through the torture of the gas, because the gas makes them prolong the suffering," says Willie Sers.

Some are totally against euthanization. 

"So you say don't even kill the animals at all? That's right. They don't deserve to be killed unless they got a disease or something that they can't live, that's the only way I see anything," says Katherine Godwin.

As of February 15th, the shelter is no longer using the gas chamber to put down animals. 

In published reports, the shelter's Director Regenia Wells said Commissioner Tommy Irvin told her she could use the gas chamber. The lawsuit says Irvin's office renewed licenses to Georgia shelters knowing they were using gas to euthanize animals.

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