Monday, February 04, 2008

Innocent Victims of the War on (Some) Drugs

Sunday's Capital exposed a heartbreaking injustice going on at Animal Control Centers across the state. As a result of state controlled substance laws and a federal rule regulating control of ketamine, a narcotic used in euthanizing animals, Animal Control Centers, like the one in Anne Arundel County, are having to use a haphazard cocktail of less powerful drugs to put animals down.

The weaker drugs "can leave animals convulsing and seemingly conscious as they die." As one might expect, this has had significant negative consequences for employee morale and has even led animal control to stop "allowing owners to watch sick or old pets be put to sleep because the animals could jolt and appear conscious as they slipped into death." All this is to say nothing of the needless pain being inflicted on these poor animals, allegedly under the guise of keeping a "date rape drug" out of the hands of hoodlums.

The situation has also proven dangerous to the Animal Control Officers. Rather than subduing rabid or aggressive animals with drugs, they have had to resort to physical means, such as a control stick, to pacify the animals. This puts both the officers and animals at increased risk of injury.

I would like to implore the State Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to grant County animal shelters, even those without full-time veterinary staff (like Anne Arundel's) to have access to the narcotics that they need to do their job properly. In the meantime, if there is a way for private practice vets to step up and fill the gap temporarily, it would be a much needed community service.



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