Governor signs bill banning gas chambers for euthanizing animals

By Barry Massey: The Associated Press

SANTA FE — New Mexico is becoming the 18th state in the nation to prohibit the euthanizing of animals in gas chambers.

Gov. Bill Richardson signed legislation into law on Monday that bans carbon monoxide gas chambers for killing dogs and cats at animal shelters.

“There is a more humane way to euthanize pets and we have to enforce this,” Richardson said at a news conference at an animal shelter on the outskirts of Santa Fe.

Only four communities — Clovis, Jal, Lovington and Tucumcari — use gas chambers. Others across the state use lethal injection, which Richardson described as the “least stressful and most humane way” of euthanasia.

Clovis Mayor Gayla Brumfield joined the governor at the bill signing ceremony along with House Speaker Ben Lujan, D-Santa Fe, and House Majority Leader W. Ken Martinez, D-Grants, who sponsored the legislation.

Brumfield said the eastern New Mexico community is preparing to make the transition to the use of lethal injection at its animal shelter.

“We will work together with the state to make this happen,” said Brumfield.

The Legislature allocated $100,000 to assist communities like Clovis.

“It was never our intention to put anybody out of business,” Lujan said of local animal shelters. “It was just to address a way of being more humane to our small animal pets.”

The governor also signed another bill that will make it easier for New Mexico shelters to use lethal injection. The state will permit trained and licensed euthanasia technicians, who do not have to be veterinarians, to purchase and administer the drugs used for euthanasia of animals.

The technicians will be licensed by the state. A veterinarian also does not need to be at the animal shelter when animals are euthanized by a technician.

“Some shelters and communities can’t afford to hire a veterinarian to perform euthanasia by injection. Now they’ll be able to save money and use licensed euthanasia technician instead,” said Richardson.

The new laws take effect June 19.

The gas chamber ban is HB265. The euthanasia requirements bill is HB593.

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