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Brunswick County has no issues with animal welfare rules slated to be voted on by the state General Assembly this Thursday.
Richard Cooper, director of Brunswick County Animal Services, said the local shelter meets the new guidelines.
Proposed changes have been on the agenda of the Brunswick County Board of Health for discussion for the past couple of monthly meetings, including Monday night.
Cooper said the only measure the board objected to was an earlier proposal to phase out use of the gas chamber for euthanasia of animals by 2012. That proposal has since been removed.
“We’re happy with that decision,” Cooper said. “At the moment, it’s a safety concern for employees to have to inject animals.”
He said the reason the department likes to use the gas chamber is to protect employees from potentially dangerous wild animals and unadoptable ones, as well as feral cats.
“Some animals are extremely unhandle-able,” he said, adding it would put shelter employees at risk to try to do so and would put such animals under further stress if an employee tried to administer lethal injection.
An unsocialized animal, he said, could bite or attack.
Animals that are safe to handle are already put to death by lethal injection at the shelter, Cooper said. He said that amounts to 30 to 35 percent of all animals that have to be euthanized.
The rest are killed by the gas method, including wild raccoons, foxes and unadoptable dogs and cats.
“A large percentage of the animals we get are feral cats,” Cooper said. “You’re not going to be able to inject them.”
Another change to be voted on would no longer require euthanasia technicians to be certified.
Cooper said his department sends its employees to state school “so they can have understanding.”
The rules also require animals to no longer be in runs made of building materials like wood, which absorbs diseases, but to use sealed concrete or other impervious surfaces.
“All our facilities are internal, with air conditioning, and are impervious to moisture,” Cooper said.
Local resident Pat Purvis Brown recently took exception to other proposed changes to state animal welfare rules that include removal of a requirement for employees to score 80 percent on a euthanasia exam and to pass a practical exam.
It also has been proposed to change “humanely euthanizing” in the text to simply “euthanizing.”
“Proper and lawful disposal” is proposed for change to “disposing,” and “properly anesthetized” to “anesthetized.”
“God’s creatures deserve humane treatment,” Brown wrote in a recent e-mail to the Beacon. “We must be their voice!”
Those concerns, she said, can be conveyed to the Office of Administrative Hearings, Rules Division, 6714 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-6714.
Laura Lewis is a staff writer at the Beacon. Reach her at 754-6890 or at email@example.com.