Every year, 3 to 4 million cats and dogs are euthanized in shelters across America - and though each deserves to meet his end with dignity, sadly that is not always the case. All too often, the heartbreaking tragedy of those lives cut short is made all the worse by the manner in which they spend their final moments.
In many animal shelters in the United States, it is common practice to load unwanted pets into dark, claustrophobic metal chambers to be poisoned to death by gas.
"For several minutes they may exist in this state of terror, clawing and calling for a way out," according to a description of the practice in Animal Sheltering Magazine. "They may struggle for air or begin convulsing before finally losing consciousness."
Animal welfare groups have long campaigned against this method of killing, calling it cruel and inhumane, and slowly but surely, more states are opting to ban the practice.
Last week, North Carolina's Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services announced that gas chambers will soon no longer be used as a routine method of euthanizing dogs and cats. Beginning next year, those animals will instead receive an injection at the hands of veterinary staff. Though the outcome is the same, the moments preceding death will be changed dramatically for all involved.