Animal Protection Issues

State Mandated Humane Euthanasia Methods

3.02.10 | Issues: Animal Shelter Facilities

Current state law mandates euthanasia of shelter animals by one of two methods:

1)  sodium pentobarbital injection
2)  commercially compressed cooled carbon monoxide     

This law is cited as Texas Health and Safety Code - Title 10 - Chapter 821, Subchapter C, Sections 821.051 - 821..055.  (specific language available at  The law is accompanied by Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) Rules and Regulations dealing with:  training for euthanasia technicians, specifications for CO2 chambers, operating standards for CO2 chambers, methods for the administration of Sodium Pentobarbital, etc.   These Rules are cited as Texas Administrative Code, Chapter 169, Sections 169.81 - 169.83 (specific language available at  These Rules are reviewed and revised periodically by DSHS, at which time comments are solicited from various animal organizations throughout the state, including THLN. 

Each time that THLN has had the opportunity to submit a recommendation to DSHS concerning gas chamber usage, we have recommended that it be eliminated.  DSHS, however, continues to reject our recommendation. 

THLN has worked closely with DSHS, the state agency that oversees animal shelter euthanasia.  Despite our repeated efforts to stop the use of "gas chambers" in Texas, we've been told by the agency and animal control staff statewide that there are many animal control agencies in Texas that employ only one individual.  In many cases, the animal control authority is the sheriff.  In these counties, gas chambers are used because one individual can perform the euthanasia easily - whereas DSHS feels two individuals are required to correctly and humanely administer the injectable euthanasia solution.  Based on these arguments, the Texas Legislature allowed Carbon Monoxide euthanasia as an acceptable method of euthanasia. Fortunately, the law mandates that the only gas which can be utilized is cooled, commercially compressed carbon monoxide, administered in chambers that meet specific standards.

An increasing number of states now ban the use of ANY gas to euthanize shelter animals and we will continue to work toward that same goal in Texas.  We strongly urge you to contact both your state representative and state senator and explain your concerns, urging them to work on this issue during the upcoming state legislative session. 

Help Bring About Change at the Local Level
Community activism is often the quickest and most effective way to bring about change for the better to help the animals at your local animal shelter.

We encourage you to contact your locally elected officials - your mayor, city council members and county commissioners -- with documentation of the problems and the unacceptable cruelty that is involved in gassing animals.  Organize a citywide or county effort to educate people about this issue and try to get the support of as many local citizens as possible to show that this is a major concern in the community.  Address the issue at city council and county commissioners' court meetings.  The more people who voice their opposition, the more likely the problem will be resolved.  (Speakers should be polite, respectful, well prepared and brief in their statements.)

Contact your local media through press releases and make them aware that a group of concerned citizens have launched an effort to ban "death by gas chamber" euthanasia at the local shelter.  You might want to have a media event, such as a peaceful, well-organized rally on the steps of City Hall or in another high visibility public area, possibly in front of the shelter.   (Make sure you go through the proper channels to get permission to hold an event, even if it is in a public area.)  If possible, enlist the help of a local public relations person to help plan the event, contact the media, provide factual information for distribution and select speakers who will provide the most effective sound bites. 

Finally, if your local shelter is using gas euthanasia, make sure they are complying with all the rules required by state law. Please read our FAQs for more information.

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