KayLynn Roberts-McMurray photo
The controversial gas chamber that was used to euthanize animals was dismantled last week.

The Ely Times

The animal shelter in the City of Ely has officially ended its use of the gas chamber to euthanize animals.

Last Thursday, the request for approval to destroy the box was placed on last week’s city council agenda by Councilmen Ernie Flangas and Tony DeFelice.

Flangas began the discussion by saying, “I think we’ve heard from a lot of people earlier in public comment, we have no use for that box, I think it ought to be destroyed so it no longer exists.”

City Attorney Charles Odgers read out loud a Nevada Revised Statute 268.008 citing the city council’s ability to put aside the box, store it, but not destroy it.

He gave an example of a computer that is purchased with public money cannot be thrown into the garbage, it has to be put aside, sold and logged.

As Odgers continued to give an example, DeFelice began to speak, and he was asked by the Mayor and Council members to let Odgers finish.

“I have no problem with taking it out of service, storing it, removing it, I have no problem with you selling it, or you can donate it to a nonprofit organization, there are a number of things you can do besides destroy it,” Odgers said.

DeFelice then said, “Good, I’m pretty sure that the city purchased shovels and throughout the city’s history because they can’t destroy them there must be a big closet where all the shovels are, it must be alongside the broken rake closet and then next to that it should be broken lawnmowers, we didn’t purchase this box, it was wood, it was put together.”

Councilwoman Jolene Gardner said the box was “put together by the city.  Used hinges, used wood, you would have to prove that the wood was purchased by the city, and if we were to remove the box and take it in which the manner it was first put together, we can dismantle it with the same screws, same wood and that actually wouldn’t be destroying it.

“Or we can sell it for a $1 but to say we can’t destroy it, it’s ridiculous to say we don’t have the right to destroy it.”

Councilman Sam Hanson said, “I think the point is the we can still use the box whereas the broken  components can no longer be used, I like your idea, donate it, sell it for a $1”

Gardner quickly spoke up, “No let’s don’t donate it, lets take it apart, dismantle it, it’s city property, let’s dismantle it.”

Odgers went back to the NRS 268.028 explaining to the mayor and council that it allows the council when a piece of property has no more life, it can be sold, or abated but not destroyed.

“You can’t burn the damn thing, you can’t run over it with a loader, all you can do is sell it,” he said.

It was mentioned by Odgers that the box had been red tagged, and was currently inoperable.

Hanson said, “It would be good to come back in two weeks, we already have a motion on the floor.”

Hanson asked the council if someone would like to amend the motion to come back in two weeks with necessary paperwork for a sealed bid auction.

Gardner asked if everyone agreed to this, further discussion went on, and Councilman Kurt Carson moved to have the box dismantled.  The vote was approved unanimously. People in the meeting, clapped and cheered.

On Tuesday, May 1, several city employees dismantled the gas chamber box.  PETA thanked the Ely City Council for voting to dismantle the homemade wooden gas box that was used to kill animals with carbon monoxide poisoning at the animal shelter.

PETA sent a statement that read,  “We’re happy to be working with the city to ensure that animals who require the mercy of euthanasia are provided a peaceful passing, and remind everyone that no animals would ever pay with their lives if everyone were responsible, would spay and neuter their companion animals, and would adopt from shelters instead of buying from breeders or pet stores.”

Although there have been reports of the box being refurbished, it was confirmed that the CO2 canisters were being delivered back to Praxair, and no future plans are being made to order a new box, or plans of  resurrecting the box.

Mayor Melody VanCamp was excited as well for this issue of the gas chamber to come to its final chapter.

“It is done, we’re happy,” she said. “I think we can move forward, and I’m kind of getting excited about the advisory board, I’d like to get that in place sooner rather than later.”