MEDINA, Ohio - The Medina County Animal Shelter has stopped using a carbon monoxide chamber to euthanize cats, and effective Monday, Dec. 16, it will no longer accept cats.
"That (the chamber) will no longer be in use as of the beginning of the year. The County will make arrangements to dispose of it one way or the other," said Medina County Dog Warden Del Saffle.
He said 275 cats have been euthanized in 2013 -- most of them in the chamber.
According to Stephanie Moore from The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Medina was one of five Ohio counties using a gas chamber for euthanasia.
The shelter faced criticism from animal activist groups that argued sodium pentobarbital injections as the most humane way to euthanize pets.
The last day the shelter will accept cats is Friday. After that, cats in the facility will be moved to the SPCA, which is being paid $13,000 by the county to run cat intake and adoption programs.
Moore said injured, sick cats or those with serious behavioral issues may still be euthanized, but lethal injection will be used.
She explained that people wanting to bring in a stray cat or give up a family cat should call the SPCA first because space will be an issue. Their phone number is 330-723-7722.
"We're not going to be basically a dumping ground. We will take them as we have room for them," Moore said.
Workers are currently remodeling an extra room to place the first 14 cats.
She stressed wild cats, known as feral, will not be accepted.
"They're going to have to be left in the wild," Moore said.
The SPCA is planning a trap-and-release program in the spring. Feral cats will be vaccinated, spayed or neutered.