A provision to ban the use of carbon monoxide gas chambers to kill unwanted pets was cut out of a veterinary medicine bill that passed the Kansas House on Wednesday.
The representative who carried the measure on the floor said the gas chambers will still be banned, but through regulation instead of state law.
But the ranking House Democrat who worked on the bill said she’s disappointed that the provision was deleted by a House-Senate conference committee before it came to a final floor vote.
In committee testimony, anti-animal-cruelty advocates and veterinarians testified that the carbon monoxide gas chamber is far from a painless method of euthanizing unwanted animals. They testified that the practice causes unnecessary stress on the animals when they’re confined in the chamber and that animals would often fight each other before the gas could take effect.
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Carbon monoxide is a byproduct of incomplete burning of fuel. When breathed in high concentration, it replaces life-sustaining oxygen in the blood.
The ban on pet gas chambers passed the House 113-12; the bill without that provision passed the Senate 40-0, sending it to the conference committee.
There really wasn’t any argument against banning the gas chambers, said Rep. Sharon Schwartz, R-Washington and chairwoman of the House Agriculture and Natural Resource Committee. But most of the House-Senate conferees felt the situation could be better dealt with through regulation than statute, she said.
The bill directs the state animal health commissioner to make regulations by the end of the year “regarding acceptable methods of euthanasia.”
Schwartz said she’s confident those regulations will include the ban on carbon monoxide gas chambers.
Rep. Ponka-We Victors, D-Wichita and the ranking minority on the agriculture committee, said she would have been more comfortable had the ban been written into the law.
She described the bill that passed Wednesday as “kind of like a watered-down version” of the bill that originally passed the House.
“I don’t know why it was a big deal to take that out,” she said. “It’s common sense to me.”
She said she’ll follow up with the commissioner to make sure that gas chambers don’t remain an acceptable form of euthanasia.
“Hopefully we won’t have to revisit this issue next year,” she said.
The other provisions of Senate Bill 189 would:
▪ Require people who practice veterinary medicine on animals in veterinary schools to obtain an institutional license if they have completed their training and state exams but are not already licensed veterinarians. The cost of an institutional license will be between $50 and $250.
▪ Indefinitely extend the state’s veterinary training program for rural Kansas.
The bill now returns to the Senate, where it is expected to pass easily and be sent to the governor.
Reach Dion Lefler at 316-268-6527 or firstname.lastname@example.org.