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Painful death
Posted by: McQ on Saturday, March 24, 2007

From a USA Today story:
A Georgia judge has ordered the state's Department of Agriculture to enforce a 1990 law that bars animal shelters from using gas chambers to kill unwanted pets.

Opponents argue that pets die slow, agonizing deaths from carbon-monoxide gas, and that lethal injection should be used to euthanize animals.
Hmmm. In reference to CO poisoning, not what I remember. It's a choice of many committing suicide for a few good reasons:
1. Availability
2. Lack of discomfort
3. Speed
How does CO effect the body?
1. Headache
2. Dizziness
3. Upset Stomach
4. Clumsiness
5. Drowsiness
6. Brain Damage
7. Death
Of course it all depends on what concentration you use:
35 ppm (0.0035%) Headache and dizziness within six to eight hours of constant exposure
100 ppm (0.01%) Slight headache in two to three hours
200 ppm (0.02%) Slight headache within two to three hours
400 ppm (0.04%) Frontal headache within one to two hours
800 ppm (0.08%) Dizziness, nausea, and convulsions within 45 minutes. Insensible within two hours.
1,600 ppm (0.16%) Headache, dizziness, and nausea within 20 minutes. Death in less than two hours.
3,200 ppm (0.32%) Headache, dizziness and nausea in five to ten minutes. Death within 30 minutes.
6,400 ppm (0.64%) Headache and dizziness in one to two minutes. Death in less than 20 minutes.
12,800 ppm (1.28%) Death in less than three minutes.
Obviously, in a gas chamber you should be able to reach the latter concentration (or more) very quickly.

But that's not the reason I bring this up. Certainly, as I view it, it seems an unnecessary intrusion by government on a perfectly adequate way to euthanize animals that shouldn't be "agonizing" or "prolonged" if done properly. But the unwritten rule, or in this case the written rule, has said for years that we must kill in a humane fashion, as seemingly contradictory as that sounds.

It brings me instead to the question I've pondered off and on for quite some time. If death ends all conscious thought, why does whether a death is "agonizing" or not matter? The pain I've felt from various injuries is remembered because I suffered it and I remember it. I remember it because I still function at a conscious level. But I wonder if that would at all matter if I had died of those injuries, some of which were agonizing at the time suffered. I certainly wouldn't remember it as agonizing nor would I be suffering from it. It would have no relevance one way or the other to me. "Agonizing death" is meaningless to the dead.

Instead, just as a funeral is mostly for the living (the dead guy is beyond caring), so is this ruling. We've decided that the CO death is "agonizing" and "prolonged". But to the dead dog, whether it dies an "agonizing" CO death or a death of merciful lethal injection, it matters not a whit.

In the end the result is the same either way ... the dog is still dead and has absolutely no memory of how it died.
 
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This looks like a set up. According to the Atlanta Constitution “Jennifer Robinson, a licensed veterinarian technician, and former state Rep. Chesley Morton have teamed up to sue the State Department of Agriculture and its head, Commissioner Tommy Irvin, for authorizing the use of gas.” Morton is the lawmaker who introduced the law making gas chambers illegal.

Commissioner Irvin says “It should also be noted that, contrary to what has been reported in the media and by the persons bringing this lawsuit, there is no section of the Georgia Code that has been designated by the Georgia legislature as the “Humane Euthanasia Act.” This is a label that the persons bringing this lawsuit have apparently come up with”

Perhaps I am paranoid, but I see the fine hand of PETA and other animal rights organizations behind this. You know, the people who wanted to kill the Polar Bear Cub who’s mother abandoned him.
 
Written By: James E. Fish
URL: http://
McQ,

I think that barring any sense of afterlife (which I don’t believe in for humans, much less animals), after the animal is dead it doesn’t really matter.

However, there’s a couple of minutes before the animal is dead. I could not, in good conscience, put an animal through excruciating pain deliberately, even if I knew that it wouldn’t matter in 3 minutes time. If it were one of my own dogs, and some veterinarian were to try such a thing, it wouldn’t just be the dog in pain, if you get my drift.
 
Written By: Brad Warbiany
URL: http://unrepentantindividual.com/
We’ve decided that the CO death is "agonizing" and "prolonged". But to the dead dog, whether it dies an "agonizing" CO death or a death of merciful lethal injection, it matters not a whit.

In the end the result is the same either way ... the dog is still dead and has absolutely no memory of how it died.


Death by CO may be humane enough, but your argument also applies to a great number of other situations. Thus, by the same argument, no matter how long or severe the torment, as long as the recipient dies in the end what happened before does not matter? Nope, that reasoning is fishy.

 
Written By: Tom
URL: http://
I think the main point is that some folks just love to use the power of the government to *force* others to do what is ’right’ as opposed to debate or education used to convince. Not only is force quicker, it is much, much more satisfying to some.
 
Written By: JorgXMcKie
URL: http://
I could not, in good conscience, put an animal through excruciating pain deliberately
Neither would I, however is there any evidence that death by carbon monoxide is painful? My understanding is the CO replaces oxygen in the bloodstream and the victim dies a painless death.
 
Written By: James E. Fish
URL: http://
Thus, by the same argument, no matter how long or severe the torment, as long as the recipient dies in the end what happened before does not matter?
I didn’t say it didn’t matter. I said to someone or something that dies, it doesn’t matter. And that’s simply the fact of the matter.

And, btw, that’s not the "same argument" by a long shot. That’s a conclusion you’ve drawn that wasn’t at all implied by my point.
Nope, that reasoning is fishy.
Couldn’t agree more. Most folks would call yours a strawman argument.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
McQ: I think you’re right that it’s an interesting and difficult question. I think the answer, if any, lies in the effects on us: that is, what kind of people do we become if we think nothing of causing pain to a semi-sentient animal?
 
Written By: Aaron Harnly
URL: http://harnly.net
Nope, that reasoning is fishy.
I resemble that
 
Written By: James E. Fish
URL: http://
I think the answer, if any, lies in the effects on us: that is, what kind of people do we become if we think nothing of causing pain to a semi-sentient animal?
Agreed, but what evidence do we have CO causes pain?
 
Written By: James E. Fish
URL: http://
James,

I think that’s a hypothetical of this little philosophical problem. I’m not sure whether it does or not, but assume that it does. Then is it acceptable to use it as a method to put down the dog, since the dog will be dead in three minutes time anyway?

McQ,

I disagree that it’s a strawman. It certainly seems to me that you’re making the point that it really shouldn’t matter to us humans from an ethical standpoint whether we choose the painful or non-painful way to kill the dog, because in the end it just doesn’t matter to the dog.

Am I misunderstanding you?
 
Written By: Brad Warbiany
URL: http://unrepentantindividual.com/
Am I misunderstanding you?
Apparently.

I’m simply wondering out loud what "painful death" really means to whoever or whatever experiences it.

And my conclusion is it means nothing since there is no consciousness with which to process the thought, the pain, or whatever.

Any other implications or inferences taken from that are purely those of the people making them.

But be clear, I am not arguing that because the dead probably have no care (and certainly no remembrance) whatsoever about how they die (peacefully or agonizingly) that we can kill things however we wish.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Ahh, understood. I wasn’t sure if you were trying to make an ethical argument or just ruminate on a question...
 
Written By: Brad Warbiany
URL: http://unrepentantindividual.com/
I think in this case it is being use to set a precedent that gassing is inhumane to animals or humans.

The reason that some prefer lethal injection is that it makes the process appear clinical, detatched and in no way emotional. This is done for the executioner’s benefit, not the subjects. Yet injections have differing effects on individual creatures and in some cases may cause excruciating pain to a paralyzed animal.

Opiate overdose, or alcohol administered until the subject is unconscious followed by severing the spinal column seems about as humane as one could get, but it sounds...icky.

Many moons ago in my Medical Ethics class, I argued that the most humane way to bring about death would be placing the subject’s head under a pile driver while the subject was asleep. No one could contradict the instantaneous nature of the extinguishing, but no one would ever perform it.
 
Written By: Uncle Pinky
URL: http://
Assuming there are two methods to kill. One is painful and the other is painless, then we have a moral duty to use the painless method. To deliberately inflict pain, with out a good reason, would be immoral. This would apply if the two method are painful, then we should use the one that inflicts the lesser pain. If an alternative exists that is not painful, and doesn’t involve death, such as putting the animal up for adoption, then that is the moral course.

In the question postulated, the killing of an animal, there should be no reason to inflict pain if possible. The moral question becomes more complicated in the case of torture of humans for the purpose of garnering intelligence. Disregarding the argument that torture produces inaccurate and useless information, assuming that torture is productive, then you must weigh the value of the intelligence that may be obtained against the general presumption that deliberately inflicting pain is immoral. This is similar to Saint Thomas Aquinas theory of “Just war” The force used must be proportional to the wrong endured, and to the possible good that may come.
 
Written By: James E. Fish
URL: http://
I didn’t say it didn’t matter. I said to someone or something that dies, it doesn’t matter. And that’s simply the fact of the matter.

And, btw, that’s not the "same argument" by a long shot. That’s a conclusion you’ve drawn that wasn’t at all implied by my point.


I thought it a somewhat reasonable inference, especially since you appear to conclude it doesn’t matter to them how they die; the next step would be that we need not feel bad about doing it any way we please.

But maybe your point was that we avoid causing agonizing, drawn-out deaths, not because of the agony of the recipient (which is according to the argument irrelevant, since they are now dead), but because of the effects on us, the killers? We need not feel bad on their account, but on our?

I think there is a simpler point, which at least convinces me to prefer quick, painless deaths. To return to your question:

If death ends all conscious thought, why does whether a death is "agonizing" or not matter?

It may not matter to them once they are dead, of course. (I for one find it quite unlikely that it would.) However, I submit it matters to them while they are dying. Thus preferring either to receive or cause a quick, painless death over an agonizing, drawn-out one is not neutral.
 
Written By: Tom
URL: http://
I think the answer, if any, lies in the effects on us: that is, what kind of people do we become if we think nothing of causing pain to a semi-sentient animal?


If I may jump into this philosophical argument. I believe this is the salient point. Until we have shuffled off this mortal coil, we can not know what if any effect is suffered by the dead. We do know what is suffered by the living. In the presence of inhumanity, people become inhuman. Nazi concentration camp guards are a good example. Most were ‘normal’ human beings not sadists when they were assigned to the camps, yet in the presence of inhumanity they became inhumane.

In an experiment some years ago, students were placed in a booth with a control that supposedly shocked a subject when they gave the wrong answer. Despite agonizing screams, virtually all of the students followed orders and increased the level of pain. Other studies have produced the same result.

In essence humans are still barbarians coated with a thin veneer of civilization, it is easy to strip off that veneer and revert to barbarism. If we are to be judged, that judgement will be on how we treat the least of us.
 
Written By: James E. Fish
URL: http://
Commenting on the fly, having barely glanced at the foregoing comments, though I note that I am, in part, echoing Tom above:
"Agonizing death" is meaningless to the dead. - McQ
Perhaps so, but it is quite excruciatingly meaningful, or at least inescapably perceptible, to the dying. It behooves the civilized soul to lessen the agony of the innocent and helpless, whenever this may be done.

That being said, I see nothing particularly inhumane about using CO in a gas chamber to euthanize animals, if they must be destroyed.

 
Written By: Linda Morgan
URL: http://
But maybe your point was that we avoid causing agonizing, drawn-out deaths, not because of the agony of the recipient (which is according to the argument irrelevant, since they are now dead), but because of the effects on us, the killers? We need not feel bad on their account, but on our?
That’s the point. The reason we have funerals isn’t for the dead person, it’s for the living.
However, I submit it matters to them while they are dying.
To what end?
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
If I had to choose how I died, and my only options were CO poisoning or being crushed by a fully loaded dumpster, then I might go with CO.

This seems to be more about painful euthanizing in comparison to other methods. A headache would be less agonizing for the animal and the doctors performing the "operation" in comparison to something like cutting arteries or stomping a puppy’s head with your boots or throwing them through piano wire. Or other outlandish methods. Carbon monoxide poisoning is relatively painless in comparison to almost any other method which could be used to kill animals, like say electrocution or severing the spinal column.

The only other way I can think of to kill an animal or person which would be less painful would be an injection. There could be some complex issues with handling the chemicals required for lethal injections, which would make a gas chamber simpler in comparison. Used needles from hospitals are considered a biohazard and have to be disposed of with some care. Lethal drugs would have to be very carefully controlled in a clinic, and might also cost a lot of money (I guess?). Besides those things, the effect of a gas chamber could be reversed somewhat easily, by having a system to ventilate the room quickly (maybe?).

None of those would be my preferred way to die. I would have to say, if it is up to me, I want one of the two options: die peacefully of extreme old age, or while standing in the middle of a giant explosion. It would be almost totally painless, extremely fast, and have no chance of leaving me alive.

This is all just my opinion.
 
Written By: Josh
URL: http://
As for me, I would rather go out on the ‘downstroke’ succeeding in coming and going at the same time.
 
Written By: James E. Fish
URL: http://
Hmmm. In reference to CO poisoning, not what I remember. It’s a choice of many committing suicide for a few good reasons:
1. Availability
2. Lack of discomfort
3. Speed
Two words: Brad Delp.
Out.
 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://
Well, personally a shotgun to the back of the head would be pretty damned painless and quick, just messy. Same with a guillotine, I would presume, although that would probably be less messy and a hell of a lot quieter.

I’ve held a pet I loved very much while the injection was administered and he felt nothing that I could tell and it was very quick, literally seconds. Granted some animals may have problems with lethal injections, I would think that the exceptions shouldn’t drive the rule.
 
Written By: Robb Allen
URL: http://blog.robballen.com
Hypoxia is a painless way to go, but confusing that with CO poisoning is a bit misleading.

A chamber full of pure nitrogen (a fairly cheap commodity) would result in unconsciousness and death within minutes. This cannot be said of a chamber even with fairly high levels of CO.

Pure nitrogen simply replaces the oxygen, and, as our blood levels of O2 decrease our brain shuts down. Mixing CO in slowly "locks up" hemoglobin, resulting in the same effect, but slowly enough that the body has time to react with pain signals.

The proof of the pudding is reports from victims of CO, even very high levels -before they died, reporting nausea and blindingly painful headaches. Compare this with the stories of any AF or Navy pilot who has been trained to recognize hypoxia. They are placed in a chamber in which the O2 level is reduced and replaced with nitrogen. They don’t know what hit them. They have headaches alright, but *after* they recover, which is not an issue when it’s used to termainal effect.

The potential problems of a CO euthanizing chamber (and the PETA-type flak they engender) is not worth the very small cost savings of simply purchasing a tank of nitrogen every couple of days.
 
Written By: bud
URL: http://

 
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