Animal euthanasia on the decline

By Christine Kim

Pet overpopulation is still an issue today.

About 8 to 12 million animals entered shelters nationwide in 2005, and among them about 5 to 9 million were euthanized. But within two years, euthanasia has dropped 12% in the Chicago area.

Ledy VanKavage is the senior director of legal training and legislation at the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. She says the number of animals euthanized in Illinois continues to decrease.

“I think for dogs, it’s getting better. I think fewer dogs are dying at least in the midwest as a whole. But I think the cat population is through the roof.”

Under Illinois’s Humane Euthanasia in Animal Shelters Act, all animals must be euthanized with lethal injection or in a commercially manufactured gas chamber. There are two state laws that require shelters to report the number of euthanized animals.

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Champaign Humane Society manager Kate Meghji says each year about two thousand animals are adopted and a couple hundred are euthanized through lethal injections.

“The most euthanasia we see is with cats who are very very sick and who are suffering, or dogs with behavioral problems. Dogs who are aggressive, dogs who have been fighting dogs, things like that, dogs that are dangerous.”

Senior Director VanKavage says most animals are euthanized because of the lack of space. She says there are ways to decrease the problem of overpopulation which will help prevent the use of unnecessary euthanasia.

“I think every city should enact an ordinance saying that any animal that is found running at large it has to be spayed and neutered ebfore it’s returned to its owner because obviously it’s returned to its owner because obviously it’s out there procreating. And I think we need more funding for the Illinois pet population control program.”

Currently, there’s a bill in Illinois that will generate about 3 million dollars each year to spay and neuter animals. However, Vankavage predicts that it won’t pass.