We’ve just learned that the Georgia Department of Agriculture (GDA) and its commissioner, Tommy Irvin, have been found in contempt of court by Judge Tom Campbell of Fulton County Superior Court. This ruling comes after a more than seven-month legal battle that began when PETA received reports that dogs and cats were being cruelly and illegally gassed to death by various pounds and shelters in Georgia and that the Georgia Department of Agriculture was not upholding a 17-year-old law, the 1990 Humane Euthanasia Act.
The lawsuit was filed by Law firm Schiff Hardin LLP in Atlanta on behalf of two plaintiffs: a former Clayton County Humane Society employee—whose dog was hit by a car and then killed in one of the gas chambers—and former state representative Chesley Morton, who introduced Georgia’s Humane Euthanasia Act in 1990. PETA sent a cease-and-desist letter to Cobb County on April 5 requesting assurance that the shelter would comply with the law, but the letter and subsequent communications were simply ignored on the basis of a “grandfather clause,” which the county incorrectly claimed gave them an exemption from using humane methods of euthanasia.
It is simply incredible that private citizens had to go to court to get the department to abide by the very laws it is charged with enforcing, but the recent announcement that the GDA is finally being held accountable for their actions is a major victory, and hopefully it will help to shed some light on the brazen disregard for the law and for animal suffering that places like Cobb County have been getting away with for years in a crude attempt to deal with the cat-and-dog overpopulation crisis. Euthanasia is a tragic necessity while 6-8 million animals are abandoned in shelters in the U.S. alone every year and breeders continue to manufacture more for profit, but unwanted animals discarded by society must be offered a dignified, humane exit if death is the best we can offer them. There is no excuse for employing inhumane methods which simply prolong and intensify the suffering of these unwanted animals.