New guidelines have been proposed for the euthanasia of animals in shelters across the state. In April 2006, NewsChannel 3 reported complaints about inhumane practices going on the Columbus county animal shelter. A former animal control officer there said they would gas more than a dozen dogs at a time in the same homemade gas chamber. The state animal welfare department is now recommending big changes for shelters across the state. Retired animal control officer Ralph Gann said, "They put so many animals in the gas chamber at once. Of course, you put them in one or two at a time, like that, or separate them, it would have probably taken them all day to do the euthanasia, but that would have probably been a lot more humane to do that." Gann says he was appalled by the practices he saw during his brief time working as a Columbus County Animal Control officer. County officials said tight finances forced them to do mass gassings. Director of Columbus County Animal Control Rossie Hayes said, "We've had great success. We've already adopted out seventeen this week. That's number one priority, right here, is getting these animals a good home." Hayes says there have been less animals euthanized lately because they've been using petfinder.com and have been working with the humane society. Hayes says more dogs have been adopted in the past few months than ever before. For the ones that aren't, or that are sick, once a week, animal control uses the gas chamber to put them down. Hayes said, "We do it on Friday we still use the gas chamber. We abide by the state law. If the law changes, we'll change with it. Whatever the law requires, we'll abide by it." The state Animal Welfare Department is recommending, at the request of the General Assembly, new euthanasia guidelines. At least two that would affect Columbus County; animals must be separated from one another when they are gassed, and the shelter must use a manufacturer's approved gas chamber. County Manager Jim Varner says multiple dogs are still euthanized at one time, but that the number has been decreased. Varner said, "As far as packing them in? No. We limit the number. And I do not know the number, but I've been assured for a fact we do not pack them in there."
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