For the last 20 years, Peter MacQueen, the president of the Eastern North Carolina Humane Society, has been fighting for the health and well being of animals. One of his major concerns is the use of gas chambers to euthanize animals. Peter MacQueen says around 60,000 animals are killed in gas chambers each year in North Carolina. It is something he is working to change. "In the panic of when they're in that dark box waiting for the box to come on and while it's coming on they can end up and have and will scratch each other and fight and scratch and try to get out," said MacQueen. A state law passed in 2005, mandating all gas chambers be commercial grade and requiring animals be separated from one another in the chamber. MacQueen said that rule is not being followed in many counties, and even where the law is being followed, the carbon monoxide chambers are still inhumane. "The animals have bad reaction to the gas; vomiting, urinating and fighting you never know what's going to happen in there," said MacQueen. He is also concerned about the safety of the humans operating the carbon monoxide chambers. MacQueen said, "The problem in the long term is that they don't know they're getting exposed and just opening and closing the door they get exposed and this can lead to cancer and heart disease." Thursday, MacQueen is going to Raleigh to address these concerns with the two main candidates for governor. He believes lethal injection is the only humane form of euthanasia, but not all animal lovers agree. New Hanover County's Jean McNeil said commercial grade gas chambers are no more of an issue than their lethal injections. "I've seen bad situations with the chamber and I've seen bad situations with injections, so I don't think you can just categorize it and say it's good either way," said McNeil. McNeil said the way the animals are put down is not the biggest problem. "You still have a dead animal at the end of the process. The result is still an animal that has not found its way into a loving home because some irresponsible pet owner failed to get their pet neutered," said McNeil. McNeil said the state needs to mandate enough trained employees to do lethal injections, before considering banning gas chambers all together. She also said the pet population could be controlled with low cost surgical facilities, and low cost spay and neuter vouchers. MacQueen said they are all good ideas that he will present to lawmakers in the near future.
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