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Proposed animal euthansia rules put on hold

Efforts to create a statewide standard for euthanizing animals at shelters are on hold.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — The state agriculture department has stepped into a heated debate over how to euthanize animals, but some of the department's recommendations have met opposition.
North Carolina does not have any statewide standards on how animals must be killed. The state Rules Review Commission has put a hold on a set of guidelines for humane euthanasia, developed by the agriculture department following a 2005 order from the General Assembly.

"It really just gives us a time out,"said Ray Starling, an attorney for the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. The department will continue to push for the rules, he said.

"It's important to our county animal shelters. It's important to animal advocates," Starling said. "It's something the Legislature is taking an interest in and certainly wants us to do."

The guidelines regulate local animal shelters across the state and require shelters that euthanize with gas to use commercial carbon monoxide and commercially made chambers. Shelters must stop using practices such as connecting a hose to an automobile exhaust pipe.

"This will require training of the euthanasia technicians," said Dr. Lee Hunter, with the state agriculture department. "It will require that they demonstrate they know how to do it."

The proposed rules would allow shelters to continue using lethal injection, particularly in the case of violent animals.

"The ultimate goal, I'm sure, is what's best for the animal shelters," Bobby Bryan, with the state Rules Review Commission, said.

So far, though, the state Rules Review Commission has not approved the agriculture department's proposal. Commission officials say the agency can not order shelter to follow those guidelines.

A bill before the state Legislature, which was expected to wrap up its short session on Friday, could end the debate. If the Legislature does not pass the bill, the state Rules Review Commission will make the decision on the agriculture department's recommendations.

Either way, the state expects a final decision on how to euthanize animals to be made by fall 2008.


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