Judge Orders Georgia to Enforce Law Preventing Use of Animal Shelter Gas Chambers

A county judge ordered the state Friday to enforce a law preventing animal shelters from using gas chambers.

Plaintiffs' lawyer Walter Bush argued at a hearing Friday in Atlanta for a temporary restraining order to keep the Georgia Department of Agriculture from renewing licenses for shelters that use gas chambers illegally.

Fulton County Superior Judge Cynthia Wright's injunction includes exceptions outlined in Georgia law. They apply in counties with fewer than 25,000 people and in cases where an animal poses an extreme danger. Also exempted are counties that were already using a gas chamber when the law was passed in 1990.

The plaintiffs are former state Rep. Chesley Morton, who sponsored the Humane Euthanasia Act, and a former Humane Society employee.

Bush argued that the Agriculture Department has never enforced the law.

Agriculture Commissioner Tommy Irvin testified that he believes the law is unclear and that local governments should be able to decide their policies.