STOP "HEART STICK" Euthanasia in St. Clair County Michigan

*Intracardial injections, commonly referred to as "heart sticks," are considered inhumane and cruel when performed on animals that aren't anesthetized or comatose. Using the "heart stick" method is painful because the needle containing sodium pentobarbital - a schedule II controlled substance used to euthanize animals - passes through the chest wall and several layers of muscle before puncturing the heart. If the euthanasia substance isn't carefully and accurately administered, an animal's lungs could be punctured, causing them to fill with fluid, a painful way to die.

Intracardial injections are difficult to administer effectively on fully conscious animals because in the animal, the lungs and the heart are constantly moving, said Dr. Bonnie Beaver, a veterinarian and professor of veterinary medicine who is considered a euthanasia expert by the American Veterinary Medical Association.

Animal shelter accused of inhumanely euthanizing cats, dogs
By Steve Neavling %u2022 FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER %u2022 April 21, 2008

A state agency is accusing the St. Clair County Animal Shelter of inhumanely euthanizing dogs and cats and then failing to ensure the animals are dead before tossing them in trash bags.
    The state Department of Agriculture said the euthanasia process %u2014 injecting a tranquilizer into the heart of lucid animals %u2014 can cause immense suffering before the animal slowly dies. In addition, shelter workers don%u2019t use a stethoscope to guarantee the animal is dead.

The usual, humane euthanasia process %u2014 recommended by the American Veterinary Medical Association %u2014 is to heavily sedate the animal before injecting the dog or cat with a solution that stops the heart and lungs from functioning.

Dr. Jeanette Roberts, a veterinarian from Clyde who worked at the shelter, filed a whistle-blower lawsuit against St. Clair County this month, claiming she was fired in February for confronting the state and shelter about the euthanasia procedure. According to the suit, the shelter director Lyle Herman, told Roberts that he %u201Cdidn%u2019t hire her to have debates or tell him how to run his facility.%u201D

Roberts also claimed in the lawsuit that jail inmates were working at the shelter and putting animals at risk by not following animal welfare guidelines.

Herman has agreed to seek training for a more humane euthanasia procedure, state records show.


St. Clair County Animal Shelter has high euthanasia rate
By STEVE NEAVLING %u2022 Free Press Staff Writer %u2022 April 22, 2008

The St. Clair County Animal Shelter that is under investigation for its euthanasia procedures has one of the highest rates in the state for putting down dogs and cats.
    The tax-funded shelter in Port Huron euthanized nearly 1,000 dogs, or 64% of the canines, it received in 2007, records released today show. By comparison, Oakland County%u2019s shelter killed about 29% of its dogs, while Macomb County euthanized 47%.
    The rate is much higher for cats entering the St. Clair County Animal Shelter. About 93% of the 1,760 cats received by the shelter were euthanized. That%u2019s compared to 42% in Oakland County and 50% in Macomb County. Wayne County government doesn%u2019t operate a shelter.
    County Administrator Shaun Groden said the high rate of euthanasia for cats stems from a large feral population that is predominately aggressive, often trying to claw or bite an animal control officer.

The state Department of Agriculture determined this month that the shelter%u2019s euthanasia procedure for cats %u2014 injecting a tranquilizer into their heart%u2014 is inhumane because it can cause immense pain before the animal slowly dies. County officials insist a more humane procedure is used for dogs.

The American Veterinary Medical Association recommends heavily sedating the animal before injecting it with a solution that stops the hearts and lungs.

The shelter also doesn%u2019t use a stethoscope to guarantee the animals are dead before tossing them in trash bags, according to reports from an investigation by the agricultural department this month.

The investigation follows a complaint from Dr. Jeanette Roberts, a veterinarian who worked at the shelter. She filed a whistle-blower lawsuit against the county this month, saying she was fired in February for contacting the state about the euthanasia procedure.

The state Department of Agriculture soon plans to send out memos to shelters across the state outlining standards for euthanasia.

 

 

 


(*Exerpt taken from article dated May 6, 2008 at GoUpstate.com By Lynne P. Shackleford)
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