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Mutterings

A round-up of fun, inspiring news tidbits from the animal welfare world.

From Animal Sheltering magazine May/June 2016

Brooklyne Mugridge, 6, uses a sledgehammer on a gas chamber that was removed from the Heber City Animal Services shelter during a “Bash the Gas” celebration on June 12, 2014, in Utah.Adam Driver of Girls and Star Wars: the Force Awakens fameThe ears have it.

Gas Chambers’ Last Gasp in Nevada

Nevada’s last known working gas chamber has closed its doors.

The carbon monoxide gas chamber was purchased in the early ’80s and housed in a geographically isolated Elko, Nev., shelter, says Elko city manager Curtis Calder. “They were probably pretty commonplace back in those days,” he says.

Beginning in 2008, all shelter employees were certified as euthanasia technicians and most often employed lethal injections. However, the chamber was still used for animals that the shelter deemed “dangerous,” says Calder, noting that the shelter employed it three times in 2015. The method did not reflect the city’s humane efforts, which have included the creation of a local animal shelter support organization and an on-site spay/neuter clinic.

The chamber also required the use of bottled carbon monoxide, a hazardous substance that can jeopardize employee safety, which the city prioritizes above all else, says Calder. Thankfully, a grant from The HSUS meant shelter employees were able to receive additional equipment and animal handling training, allowing Elko to decommission the chamber once and for all.

“There’s absolutely no need for a machine,” says Calder. “I was excited to see it go.”

Since The HSUS began its campaign to end the use of gas chambers in U.S. shelters in 2013, at least 69 chambers have been shut down. There are currently only seven states with known operational chambers, down from 16 in 2013.

In February 2016, the city donated the decommissioned chamber to the National Museum of Animals & Society in Los Angeles. The chamber will “serve as a celebration” of steps taken toward a more humane society, says museum executive director and founder Carolyn Merino Mullin. “Our society [is] more humane for animals each and every day.”


A Bittersweet Tribute to Shelter Dogs

Traer Scott captures sloppy tongues, grizzled beards and everything in between with her stunning, stirring second book of shelter dog portraits, Finding Home: Shelter Dogs & Their Stories.

From silly to soulful, most of the images are presented without comment—until the end of the book, when we discover the fates of Cody, Hope, Mia and others.

Meet dogs like Molly, a senior golden whose elderly owner was forced to move into housing that did not allow pets, and lovable Lorna, a pit bull mix who was transferred from the city animal control shelter to become a rescue staff favorite.

With careful compassion for the difficult decisions rescue and shelter staff make every day, Scott shares biographies and a selection of essays behind the faces you’ve come to love, as well as moving reflections on animal rescue from shelter and rescue professionals. Most pups meet happy endings, but your heart will break for the sweet souls who aren’t so lucky.


The Force Is Strong With Cat-lo Ren

Adam Driver of Girls and Star Wars: The Force Awakens fame has a doppelganger—and his name is Cat-am Driver (or Corey, depending on whom you ask).

The distinctive-looking cat was up for adoption as “Corey” at Monmouth County SPCA in Eatontown, N.J., before gaining Internet fame thanks to the startlingly familiar large ears and long nose he shares with the actor.

“Tell me this cat @TheMCSPCA doesn’t look like Adam Driver,” wrote Marci Robin, executive editor of beauty site xoVain, in a tweet and accompanying photo that was retweeted over 1,700 times. The uncanny resemblance caught the eye of HuffPo, Mashable and MSN, as well as Robin’s former co-worker Emily McCombs.

Now an executive editor at Elite Daily, McCombs writes that she “gazed into the eyes of this cat and felt two things deep in my soul 1) that I loved him and 2) that he was meant to be with me,” in her post “I Adopted That Viral Internet Cat Who Looks Like Adam Driver.”

McCombs contacted the SPCA only to discover Corey had already been adopted—but mere hours later, an adoption coordinator contacted McCombs to tell her that the adoption had fallen through.

Enlisting the help of a friend with a car, McCombs drove an hour in the wee hours of the morning to arrive at the SPCA as it opened. When another interested adopter turned out to be allergic to Corey’s breed, McCombs emerged as The Chosen One.

Since being adopted, Corey has acquired his own Instagram account (@catam_driver) and a Star Wars-appropriate new name: Kylo Ren. “I realized that I was currently adopting a cat that was legitimately ‘hot on the Internet,’” says McCombs. “But I didn’t adopt Corey because he was going viral on the Internet. I adopted him because I loved him.”

About the Author

Bethany Wynn Adams is a senior editor at Animal Sheltering, a quarterly magazine for anyone who cares about the health and happiness of animals and their people, and animalsheltering.org. From tales of shelter mascots to guidance on backyard chickens, Bethany works with experts from across the country and within the Humane Society of the United States to bring wide-ranging, engaging print and web news to the animal welfare community. Winner of the Cat Writers' Association's MUSE Medallion and finalist in the Eddie & Ozzie Folio awards, she lives in Maryland with her husband and two naughty rescue dogs.