If there was any way that the euthanasia of dogs and cats can be related to the Holocaust, the Georgia Senate found a way. On Wednesday, the Senate approved a bill that would force the last counties in the state to switch from gas to injection to kill dogs and cats that have ended up in a pound.`
“It does away with the gas chamber,” said Renee Unterman (R-Buford). “Gassing is cruelty.”
HB 788 passed 38-9 and will give counties three years to switch from gas to injection.
But in voting against the bill, Sen. Bill Heath, a Republican from Bremen, championed the merits of gas as the most humane way for animals – and humans – to die.
From the well, Heath recounted a story in which he was working on his car and got overcome by carbon monoxide gas. He said he experienced a “drowsy, euphoric” feeling. No pain at all.
“I wasn’t worried about anything. There was nothing adverse about the feeling and I knew that this feeling good was a bad sign,” Heath said. “I can understand why people use it to commit suicide.”
To his credit, Heath never advocated suicide, nor did he ever mention the Holocaust, but his implication that dying in a gas chamber is not a bad thing for animals or humans stunned some of his Senate colleagues.
“Between 1941 and 1945 there were about 6 million people who would disagree with you about that gas,” said Sen. Steve Thompson (D-Marietta). “I can’t think of anyone who would support that method when you have another.”
During World War II millions of Jews were killed in gas chambers by Nazis who used hydrogen cyanide, carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide for mass exterminations.
Added Gloria Butler (D-Stone Mountain): “For a senator to come to well and say [Carbon Monoxide gas] makes you feel good is inconceivable.”
Since World War II carbon monoxide gas chambers were commonly used at animal shelters throughout the country to destroy stray animals.
The American Veterinary Medical Association considers carbon monoxide gassing an acceptable method of euthanasia when done properly because, “it induces loss of consciousness without pain and with minimal discernible discomfort.”
In a sit down interview later, Heath stressed that there is nothing inhumane about carbon monoxide gas and added that he was not trying to draw correlations to the Holocaust.
“I don’t know what kind of gas they used,” said Heath, adding that gas is safer for the handlers to use on the animals and offers a painless death for the animals. “I do know that gas is a lot less traumatic than a needle. I know that first hand. When I get a shot, I jump even now. And I don’t think there is a soul in this building that would want to hurt an animal.”