The use of carbon monoxide could be outlawed as a euthanasia method in animal shelters by 2012. That’s according to the state’s proposed standards, published in the N.C. Register Nov. 1. (Download the PDF file, 2.5 MB.)

While animal rights activists say that’s an improvement over current law, they’re critical of the four-year delay.

The proposed rule states death by gas could be used in “extraordinary circumstances,” although those situations aren’t defined.

Earlier this year, hundreds of people attended public hearings on the euthanasia rules. (See “Use of gassing challenged,” Aug. 8).

Although the American Veterinary Medical Association approves of carbon monoxide under limited circumstances, that method is often considered inhumane because of the time it takes for animals to lose consciousness and die. The proposed rules states “death should occur within five minutes,” but animals “should be left in the chamber for 20 minutes.”

The proposal also outlines standards for certified trainers, but fails to fully address potential conflicts of interest. As reported by the Indy, Pittsboro veterinarian Ralph Hauser trains technicians on using gas chambers, but also sells the chambers to county animal shelters.

The proposed rules require trainers to disclose “to their students and the Animal Welfare Section any potential conflicts of interest,” but don’t prohibit those conflicts.

The public comment period runs through Dec. 31. The Board of Agriculture will vote on the rules next year, and if passed, will become law. Written statements of objection should be sent to David S. McLeod, Secretary, N.C. Board of Agriculture, 1001 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-1001.