Veterinarians follow standards to ensure that the process is humane, but what happens when a shelter does not follow the rules?
It is no secret that the days are numbered for dogs and cats who end up in an animal shelter. How they are put to death is often shrouded in secrecy.
North Carolina law
mandates that animals be put to sleep quickly and with the least amount of pain and suffering.An animal rights organization claims this is not always the case.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals,
, gave WRAL hidden camera video it shot from inside a local shelter.
"It is beyond description," said Faith Walker, a member of Justice For Animals, of what she saw on the tape.
The group filed a lawsuit against the Robeson County Animal Shelter. The undercover video is evidence in the lawsuit, which claims animals are being killed inhumanely, violating state law.
"[The animals were] slapped, and kicked and stabbed in the heart and held up in midair on the choke stick and then just dropped into wheelbarrows with some of them falling all over the cement on top of each other," Walker said of what she saw on the tape.
WRAL asked two Raleigh veterinarians with no connection to the case to view the tape. Workers in the tape are shown putting the animals to death with a needle which is supposed to be placed precisely into the heart.
"It's terrible," said Dr. Warren Gintis. "There's no attempt to look for the heart. They are just sticking at the chest. They'll die eventually because it will go into the lungs and from the lungs it will filter back to the heart. It is not a quick and humane death."
National veterinary standards dictate that animals be sedated before use of a heart stick, which does not appear to be happening in the tape.
"Watching this, I don't have the sense that they care to do it properly. It's just an assembly line," said Gintis.
"The animals have suffered long enough at the hands of the local animal control officers. They need to follow the laws of the state of North Carolina," said Walker.
Animal control officers and Robeson County officials referred WRAL to the county attorney who did not return our phone calls.
Walker said that she and other concerned citizens have been invited to visit the shelter next week to see for themselves how animals are put to sleep.
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