Report Highlights. Animal euthanasia statistics reflect a declining trend of euthanasia in animal shelters. Incidents of animal euthanasia is not well documented, however, and total estimates vary.

  • Between 4,000 and 10,000 animals are euthanized in shelters daily.
  • 25% of animals entering shelters are confirmed euthanized.
  • 9 out of 10 euthanized animals are adoptable, having no painful or life-threatening conditions.
  • As many as 57% of euthanized animals are unweaned kittens.
  • Americans pay $1.5 billion each year for animal control, including euthanasia.

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Line Graph: Shelter Animals Recorded Euthanized Annually

Euthanasia Facts & Statistics

Statistics about animal euthanasia are generally only available from those organizations that volunteer such information. The rate of euthanasia among shelter animals is in decline.

  • A high-end estimate is that 100 million animals are euthanized every year regardless of legality.
  • More conservative estimates are between 11 and 25 million.
  • 75% of people surveyed say it should be illegal to euthanize healthy animals.
  • Almost 90% of people surveyed believe euthanasia rates are less than half of what they actually are.
  • Common euphemisms for euthanasia are “put to sleep” and “put down.”
  • California overtook Texas last year as the U.S. state with the highest rate of confirmed cases of animal euthanasia.
  • 5 states are responsible for 51.5% of all animal euthanizations.
  • There is little raw data about animal euthanasia available because:
    1. There is no national reporting system in place among animal rescue and control groups.
    2. Few states require shelters to keep records about the number of animals they euthanize.
    3. Certain organizations, such as research laboratories, are not legally required to keep records of most of the animals they euthanize.
Official Recorded Animal Euthanizations, State-Level
State Animals Euthanized Share of Total Confirmed
California 100K 16.0%
Texas 96.7K 15.5%
North Carolina 47.7K 7.6%
Florida 45.5K 7.3%
Louisiana 32.2K 5.2%

Shelter Euthanasia in Decline

The last major nationwide study on the subject of euthanasia in animal shelters was completed in 1997 by the National Council of Pet Population Study and Policy. Newer data is available from individual shelters or rescue systems.

  • In 1970, 15 million shelter animals were euthanized.
  • In 1997 9.5 million shelter animals were confirmed euthanized.
  • 71% of shelter cats were euthanized.
  • 56% of shelter dogs were euthanized.
  • 2,700 animals were euthanized per shelter.
  • In 2011, 2.6 million shelter animals were euthanized.
  • In 2019, 1.4 million shelter animals were euthanized.
  • Euthanasia in animals shelters has declined 90.7% since 1970.
  • In the last 20 years, incidents of euthanasia in shelters diminished by 66%.
  • Between 1989 and 2010, canine euthanasia in the Denver Metro (pop. 4M) decreased by 77%; between 1989 and 2000, feline euthanasia decreased by 82%.
  • In just two years (2017-2019) Franklin County, Ohio (pop. 1.6M) reduced euthanizations by 20%.
  • In 1997, Chicago, Illinois euthanized 83% of animals entering their shelter system; in 2017, 24% of the city’s shelter animals were euthanized.

Line Graph: Case Study: Euthanasia Rates in the City of Memphis

High-Risk Shelter Animals

Certain animals are more likely to face euthanasia due to their breed. Pit bulls, for example, have a poor public image and are viewed as inherently vicious.

  • As many as 57% of euthanized animals are unweaned kittens.
  • Starting a kitten nursery helped Los Angeles Animal Services decrease euthanizations by half between 2012 and 2014.
  • 90% of homeless dogs are pit bulls.
  • 35% of animal shelters report taking in an average of one-or-more pit bulls each day; 93% of these dogs are euthanized.
  • Racing grayhounds are often homeless after “retirement” and at high risk for euthanasia.
  • A greyhound’s racing career lasts an average of 2-3 years barring injury.
  • Over 1.35 million racing grayhounds have been euthanized since the sport’s inception.
  • Special needs animals are sometimes euthanized due to lack of funds for their care; specialty animal shelters have taken in and cared for these animals specifically for over 40 years.

Case Study: Animals Euthanized by the City of Dallas in 2019

Reasons for Animal Euthanasia

The Veterinarian’s Oath includes the promise to always act in an animal’s welfare and to relieve pain and suffering. Unfortunately, many animals are put down because they have nowhere to go.

  • Disasters may boost euthanasia numbers; 15,000 pets were left behind when New Orleans was evacuated during Hurricane Katrina.
  • “Economic euthanasia” refers to euthanasia that’s the result of a lack of funds*.
  • An estimated 500,000 animals fall victim to economic euthanasia each year.
  • Veterinarians estimate incidents of economic euthanasia are on the rise, increasing 10-12% each year.
  • Overpopulation in shelters means more animals are euthanized so other animals in need aren’t turned away.
  • Veterinarians use the term “convenience euthanasia” to describe owners who no longer want to keep the animal and ask to have their healthy pet euthanized.

*Example: the cost of hip surgery for a Border Collie exceeds $40,000; a low-income dog owner may opt for euthanasia if pain has significantly decreased their animal’s quality of life.

Line Graph: A Case Study of Owners Who Requested Euthanasia in Hillsborough County, Florida

Euthanasia in Science and Research Laboratories

Research laboratories are not required to report euthanasia of certain species that are not protected by animal rights laws; most lab animals are unprotected.

  • 80-95% of lab animals are not protected by animals rights laws, including those that regulate euthanasia.
  • An unknown number of research animals are euthanaized for no other reason than the laboratory has no more use for them.
  • Experimental endpoints often require euthanization of the animals in order to study or collect tissue samples.
  • The Institute for Laboratory Animal Research (ILAR) under the National Academy of Sciences – which accredits laboratories – provides some procedural guidelines for euthanasia.
    • Labs should adhere to the American Veterinary Medical Association’s (AVMA) stipulations for performing euthanasia.
    • Incidents of euthanasia should follow a harm-benefit analysis.
    • Specimens that pose a threat to researchers may be euthanized using any means available.
    • Universal regulations regarding euthanasia of invertebrates or wild animals in field research are unnecessary; this includes embryonated eggs.
    • Euthanasia may be justified if housing the animals becomes an issue.

Euthanasia at No-Kill Shelters

The first no-kill shelter in the U.S. broke ground in Utah in 1984 after an anomalous spike in national shelter populations meant an estimated 17 million animals had to be euthanized.

  • Any animal shelter or rescue with a live release rate of at least 90% may legally be designated a “no-kill” entity.
  • A no-kill shelter may euthanize up to 10% of its population and maintain its no-kill status.
  • San Francisco became the first no-kill city in 1994.
  • In 2019, Delaware became the first no-kill state.
  • The world’s oldest no-kill shelters are in India.

Methods of Euthanasia

Federal law specifies that that animal euthanasia must be painless. Most states have legislation regulating who may legally perform euthanasia and how. Common methods include gassing, injection, and poisoning.

  • The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) recommends injection – of sodium phenobarbital, specifically – as the fastest, most reliable, and painless method of animal euthanasia.
    • Barbiturates (such as phenobarbital) have a calming effect that accompanies the eventual loss of consciousness followed by death. These drugs are highly regulated, and some may be difficult to obtain.
    • Ultrapotent opioids are 10,000 times more potent than standard morphine, and again, usually relax muscles. These substances, however, are typically illegal or otherwise difficult to obtain.
    • Alcohols cause death by suppressing the nervous and respiratory systems. They are also mixed with other chemicals to create emulsions for euthanizing aquatic animals.
  • Few gasses are considered acceptable inhalants for euthanasia. Gassing itself is not recommended as means of euthanasia, but may be the most humane option available under some circumstances.
    • Carbon monoxide offers a relatively fast and painless death but can be difficult to administer while maintaining personnel safety. For this reason, it has been outlawed in 19 states.
    • Carbon dioxide must be administered gradually to reduce pain. It can be unreliable across and even within species. Some smaller animals have a high tolerance for this substance.
    • Nitrogen and Argon are both odorless, tasteless, inert, and nonexplosive gasses. If administered incorrectly, however, they may induce rapid breathing, discomfort and distress.
  • Topical and oral administration are the least reliable, least preferred methods of animal euthanasia.
  • Physical methods are highly effective, but the AVMA notes these means may be insurmountably unpleasant for personnel.

Unacceptable Agents

Any method of euthanasia that causes unnecessary pain or distress is considered unacceptable by veterinarians and animal shelters alike. Many drugs or poisons that have been traditionally used to euthanize animals are among these unacceptable agents. Illegal operations, like dogfighting rings and unregistered puppy mills, still make use of these methods regularly:

  • Strychnine
  • Nicotine
  • Insulin
  • Caffeine
  • Cleaning products
  • Solvents
  • Pesticides
  • Disinfectants
  • Magnesium sulfate
  • Potassium chloride
  • Neuromuscular blocking agents

Illegal Euthanasia

Statistics about illegal euthanasia are difficult to pin down for obvious reasons: most criminal operations want to avoid leaving a paper trail, so they don’t keep records. Many of the methods they use to euthanize animals violate animal welfare laws.

  • The word “euthanasia” does not appear anywhere in the text of the original Animal Welfare Act (AWA) of 1966.
  • Euthanasia is first mentioned in the AWA’s third ammendment (1985).
  • Drowning animals by tying them into sacks has been a common method for disposing of unwanted litters for centuries.
  • An estimated 7,000+ illegal puppy mills in the U.S. may have millions of dogs unaccounted for.
  • Illegal puppy mills often eliminate ill or unwanted dogs using inhumane methods.
  • 14 U.S. states have laws restricting animal euthanasia methods to lethal injection.

State Euthanasia Laws & Codes

Many states have laws requiring euthanasia of animals that have severely injured or killed human beings. Some states allow euthanasia for any reason.

  • 64% of states have laws authorizing emergency euthanasia.
  • 46% of states specifically authorize sodium pentobarbital as the primary method of euthanasia.
  • Alabama, Illinois, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and Texas authorize the use of carbon monoxide gas as an acceptable method of animal euthanasia.
  • Mississippi and New Hampshire are the only states with no legislation regulating methods of animal euthanasia.
  • Pennsylvania is the only state to specifically bans drowning as a method of euthanasia.

Alabama

Carbon monoxide (CO) and inhalant anesthetics are acceptable alternatives to injectable agents for small animals other than dogs or cats.

  • Alabama Code 1975 Section (§) 34-29-132 authorizes euthanasia in emergency situations, including cases of an injured, diseased or dangerous animal.
  • Additional related regulations include Alabama Administrative Code Rule 930-X-1-.35 (Certified Euthanasia Technicians, CET) and Ala. Admin. Code R. 930-X-1-.36 (Registered Anumal Euthanasia Facilities, RAEF).
  • Those who may perform euthanasia:
    • Licensed veterianarians.
    • Certain authorized veterinary technicians.
    • Certain authorized and certified euthanasia technicians.
  • Organizations that may possess the means for euthanasia:
    • Veterinary clinics.
    • Authorized animal shelters.
    • Federally licensed wildlife rehabilitation centers.
  • Acceptable methods for euthanasia of dogs and cats:
    • Sodium pentobarbital.
    • Sodium pentobarbital derivatives.
    • Other authorized injectable agents that act on the central nervous system.

Alaska

Any person may lawfully kill any vicious or mad dog running at large; acceptable methods are unspecified.

  • Alaska Statute § 03.55.010 authorizes euthanasia in situations where an animal is vicious or may be carrying a disease transmissible to humans.
  • AS § 03.55.030 authorizes euthanasia for dogs that annoy or bite animals or birds “after giving reasonable notice to the owner, if known.”
  • Related regulations include Section 7 Alaska Administrative Code 27.020 (control of animal disease transmissible to humans).
  • Those who may perform euthanasia:
    • Licensed veterianrians.
    • Peace officers.
    • Public or private custodians.
    • Certified euthanasia technicians.
  • Organizations that may possess the means for euthanasia:
    • Veterinary clinics.
    • Animal control agencies.
    • Any entity that has been designated by a government entity to perform animal control and ethanasia.
  • Acceptable methods for animal euthanasia:
    • Sodium pentobarbital.
    • Sodium pentobarbital with lidocaine.
    • Other drugs authorized in regulations adopted by the department.

Arizona

County enforcement may immediately euthanize animals with clear clinical signs of rabies (following notification of owner).

  • Arizona Revised Statute § 11-1021 outlines proper care for and destruction of impounded animals.
  • Vicious animals may be euthanized by order of a justice of the peace or city magistrate.
  • Licensed veterinarians and county, city, or town animal pounds authorized by the State Veterinarian may perform animal euthanasia.
  • Veterinary clinics and county, city, or town animal pounds authorized by the State Veterinarian may possess the means for animal euthanasia.
  • Injection of sodium pentobarbital or derivatives of sodium pentobarbital are acceptable methods of animal euthanasia.

Arkansas

Arkansas stipulates that any animals having glanders or farcy shall be humanely killed by an owner or authorized entity.

  • Arkansas Code A § 5-62-116 regulates animal euthanasia.
  • Licensed veterinarians and licensed and certified euthanasia technicians may perform animal euthanasia.
  • Veterinary clinics and retail pet stores may possess the means for animal euthanasia.
  • Acceptable methods for euthanasia are “any method … that causes painless loss of conciousness and subsequent death.

California

Owners may euthanize their pets by administering sodium pentobarbital if they complete state-approved training for the drug’s administration.

  • California Business & Professions Code § 4827 regulates animal euthanasia.
  • Related regulations include Title 16 California Code of Regulations § 2039 (Euthanasia Training).
  • Sodium pentobarbital is the only acceptable method of euthanasia.
  • Those who may perform euthanasia:
    • Licensed veterinarians.
    • Specially trained and registered veterinary technicians.
    • Specially trained employees of animal control shelters.
    • Specially trained employees of humane societies.
  • Organizations that may possess the means for euthanasia:
    • Veterinary clinics.
    • Animal control shelters.
    • Humane societies.

Colorado

Licensed veterinarians may perform emergency euthanasia along a highway or in any public place.

  • Colorado Revised Statute § 12-64-118 regulates emergency care and treatment for animals, including euthanasia.
  • Related regulations include Rule 3 Code of Colorado Regulations 719-1:16.00.00 (Limited Licenses) and Rule 4 CCR 727-1:VI (Supervised Practice).
  • Trained nonveterinarians may perform euthanasia under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian.
  • Organizations that may possess the means for euthanasia:
    • Veterinary clinics.
    • Humane societies*.
    • Government-operated animal control agencies with permits.
  • Acceptable methods for euthanasia:
    • Sodium pentobarbital.
    • Sodium pentobarbital in combination with other prescription drugs that are medically recognized as being for euthanasia.
    • Methods recognized by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).

*Must be a nonprofit at least 5 years old and registered with the Secretary of State.

Connecticut

Any animal control or police officer may kill a dog that has been observed pursuing a domestic animal.

  • Euthanasia is regulated by Connecticut General Statutes § 22-344, § 2-358, and § 29-108.
  • Related regulations:
    • Regulations of Connecticut State Agencies § 20-196-13 (Veterinary Care).
    • Regs. Conn. State Agencies § 21a-262-6 (Practitioners, incl. veterinarians).
    • Regs. Conn. State Agencies § 22-344-25c (Records).
  • Anyone may legally kill an animal that attacks them as long as they are not on the owner’s property.
  • Those who may perform euthanasia:
    • Licensed veterinarians.
    • Anyone under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian.
    • An agent or officer of the Connecticut Humane Society.
  • Organizations that may possess the means for euthanasia:
    • Veterinary clinics.
    • Pet shops.
    • Connecticut Humane Society.
  • Acceptable methods for euthanasia:
    • Lethal injection of sodium pentobarbital is an acceptable form of euthanasia.
    • Schedule II bartiburate(s) used solely for animal anesthesia or euthanasia.
    • Schedule III bartiburate(s) used solely for animal anesthesia or euthanasia.

Delaware

Under no circumstances shall carbon monoxide or carbon dioxide be used as a method of euthanasia.

  • Civil code Title 16 Delaware Code § 3004F regulates animal euthanasia.
  • 16 Del. C. § 3079F defines terms of euthanasia of vicious dogs.
  • An animal may be euthanaized to alleviate undue suffering.
  • Aggressive or unhealthy animals may be euthanized.
  • Those who may perform euthanasia:
    • Licensed veterinarians.
    • Certified euthanasia technicians.
    • Licensed veterinary technicians.
    • A person who has been certified to perform euthanasia by a licensed veterinarian.
  • Organizations that may possess the means for euthanasia:
    • Veterinary clinics.
    • Public animal shelters or agencies.
    • Private animal shelters or agencies.
  • Acceptable methods for euthanasia:
    • Sodium pentobarbital.
    • Sodium pentobarbetol in combination with phenytoin sodium.
    • Methods approved by the AVMA Guidelines on Euthanasia are acceptable.

District of Columbia

There are no specific laws regarding method of euthanasia except that it must be humane.

  • District of Columbia Code § 22-1012 regulates euthanasia for animals that are maimed, diseased, vicious, abandoned, or used for scientific experiments.
  • Pets whose owners are arrested may be taken to the Washington Humane Society.
  • Arrested pet owners must make arrangements for animal care within 20 days; neglecting to do so may result in the animal’s destruction.
  • Licensed veterinarians may perform euthanasia.
  • Certified veterinary euthanasia technicians must be supervised by a licensed veterinarian.
  • Organizations that may possess the means for euthanasia:
    • Veterinary clinics.
    • Humane societies.
    • Animal shelters.
    • Animal control facilities.
    • Wildlife rehabilitation facilities.

Florida

Animals may legally be shot if they are are “imminently near death”.

  • Florida Statute § 828.05 regulates euthanasia for diseased or injured domestic animals.
  • § 828.058 regulates euthanasia of dogs and cats.
  • § 828.065 regulates euthanasia of animals offered for sale by pet shops.
  • Related regulations include Florida Administrative Code Rule 61G18-15.0025 (Mobile Veterinary Practice) and Code Rule 61G18-16.005 (Technician Certification Course).
  • Pet shop animals may be legally euthanized by laypersons.
  • Others who may perform euthanasia:
    • Licensed veterinarians.
    • Certified veterinary technicians.
    • Trained and certified euthanasia technicians.
    • Law enforcement officers.
    • Officers and agents of any municipal or county animal control unit.
    • Officers and agents of any Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA).
  • Organizations that may possess the means for euthanasia:
    • Veterinary clinics.
    • County or minicipal animal control agency registered with the Secretary of State.
    • Humane societies registered with the Secretary of State.
  • Acceptable methods for euthanasia:
    • Barbiturate drug injection.
    • Sodium pentobarbital.
    • Sodium pentobarbital derivatives.
    • Agents approved by rule by the Board of Veterinary Medicine.

Georgia

In cases of an animal posing immediate danger to the person performing the euthanasia, unauthorized methods of euthanasia (such as a gunshot) are acceptable.

  • Georgia Code § 4-11-5.1 regulates euthanasia of cats and dogs in animal shelters.
  • § 4-8-25 regulates judge authorization of euthanasia.
  • § 4-8-26 regulates euthanasia for causing serious injury on more than one occasion.
  • Those who may perform euthanasia:
    • Licensed veterinarians.
    • Licensed physicians.
    • Supervised veterinary technicians.
    • Supervised veterinary assistants.
    • Specially trained laypersons under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian or physician.
  • Organizations that may possess the means for euthanasia:
    • Veterinary clinics.
    • Animal shelters.
    • Facilities operated for the collection and care of stray, necglected, abandoned, or unwanted animals.
  • Acceptable methods for euthanasia:
    • Sodium pentobarbital.
    • Sodium pentobarbital derivatives.
    • Any substance clinically proven and recognized by the AVMA as humane.

Hawaii

In emergency circumstances where the animal is a danger to other persons or animals, police officers and animal control officers may perform euthanasia “humanely.”

  • Hawaii Revised Statute § 143-8 regulates euthanasia of unlicensed dogs.
  • § 143-13 regulates the destruction of diseased or unfit dogs.
  • § 329-16, § 329-20, § 329-33, and § 471-1 also regulate animal euthanasia.
  • Only licensed veterinarians may perform euthanasia.
  • Only veterinary clinics may possess the materials to euthanize animals.
  • Pentobarbital and chloral hydrate are acceptable methods of euthanasia.

Idaho

There are no civil codes regulating animal euthanasia.

  • Licensed veterinarians and certified euthanasia technicians may perform animal euthanasia.
  • Related regulations include:
    • Idaho Administrative Code Rule 46.01.01.201 (Methods of Euthanasia, Sedation).
    • 46.01.01.202 (Procurement and Administration of Drugs).
    • 46.01.01.204 (Certified Euthanasia Agency).
    • 46.01.01.205 (Certified Euthanasia Technician).
  • Organizations that may possess the means for euthanasia:
    • Veterinary clinics.
    • Law enforcement agencies certified by the Idaho Board of Veterinary Medicine or the Committee on Humane Euthanasia (COHE).
    • COHE or Board certified animal control agencies.
    • COHE or Board certified humane societies.
    • COHE or Board certified animal shelters.
  • Acceptable methods for euthanasia:
    • Schedule II nonnarcotic euthanasia drugs approved in writing by the Idaho Board of Pharmacy.
    • Schedule III nonnarcotic euthanasia drugs approved by the Board of Pharmacy.
    • Certain other permitted drugs approved by a licensed veterinarian on a case-by-case basis.

Illinois

Animals may only be euthanaized on the premesis of a shelter licensed under the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) except in cases of emergency euthanasia.

  • Section 510 Illinois Compiled Statute 70/2.09 defines and regulates humane animal euthanasia.
  • 510 ILCS 72/10 lists certification requirements and exemptions.
  • 72/25 regulates euthanasia agencies.
  • 72/57 outlines procedures for euthanasia.
  • Those who may perform euthanasia:
    • Licensed veterinarians.
    • Certified euthanasia technicians on the premesis of a facility licensed under the AWA.
    • Instructors during approved courses in animal shelters or control facilities.
    • Employees of the Department of Agriculture under the supervision of a veterinarian.
  • Organizations that may possess the means for euthanasia:
    • Veterinaesry clinics.
    • Licensed animal shelters.
    • Licensed animal control facilities.
    • Certified euthanasia agencies.
  • Acceptable methods for euthanasia:
    • Schedule II nonnarcotic substances for animal euthanasia.
    • Schedule III nonnarcotic substances for animal euthanasia.
    • Carbon monoxide is acceptable when administered by a licensed veterinarian in a facilitie licensed under the Illinois Animal Welfare Act.

Indiana

Methods of euthanasia must be “reasonably humane.”

  • Indiana Code 35-48-3-2 defines euthanasia in animal shelters.
  • Related regulations include Section 345 Indiana Administrative Code 1-7-10, which regulates euthanasia and disposal.
  • Sodium pentobarbital is the only acceptable method of euthanasia specified.
  • The state veterinarian may also prescribe the method of euthanasia.
  • Those who may perform euthanasia:
    • Licensed veterinarians.
    • Trained employees of a humane society.
    • Trained employees of an animal control agency.
    • Trained employees of a governmental entity operating as an animal shelter or impound facility.
  • Organizations that may possess the means for euthanasia:
    • Veterinary clinics.
    • Humane societies.
    • Animal control agencies.
    • Governmental entities operating as animal shelters or impound facilities.

Iowa

Dogs impounded by the local board of health or by law enforcement may be euthanized if the owner has not claimed the animal within 7 days.

  • Iowa Code § 162.2 defines animal euthanasia.
  • § 162.13 regulate criminal penalties and confiscation.
  • § 351.37 regulates euthanasia for dogs running at large.
  • Related regulations include Iowa Administrative Code 67.9(162) (Acceptable Forms of Euthanasia).
  • In order for a method of euthanasia to be considered acceptable, it must conform with the 2007 AVMA Guidelines on Euthanasia.
  • Those who may perform euthanasia:
    • Licensed veterinarians.
    • Commercial animal shelters that follow the 2007 AVMA Guidelines on Euthanasia.
    • Commercial pounds that follow the 2007 AVMA Guidelines on Euthanasia.
  • Organizations that may possess the means for euthanasia:
    • Veterinary clinics.
    • Commercial animal shelters that follow the 2007 AVMA Guidelines on Euthanasia.
    • Commercial pounds that follow the 2007 AVMA Guidelines on Euthanasia.

Kansas

Inhaled carbon monoxide is not an acceptable method of euthanasia for dogs and cats.

  • Kansas Statute 47-1701 defines animal euthanasia.
  • K.S. 47-1712 delineates rules and regulations regarding animal euthanasia.
  • K.S. 47-1718 defines approved methods of euthanasia.
  • Related regulations include Kansas Administrative Regulation 9-18-31 (Euthanasia Methods).
  • The method of euthanasia must be the most current approved method established by the AVMA Panel on Euthanasia.
  • Those who may perform euthanasia:
    • Licensed veterinarians.
    • Animal control officers.
    • Animal licensees or permittees.
    • Officers of an animal shelter.
    • Officers of a pound.
  • Organizations that may possess the means for euthanasia:
    • Veterinary clinics.
    • Animal control offices.
    • Animal shelters.
    • Animal pounds.
    • Animal licensees or permittees.

Kentucky

Peace officers or animal control outside an animal shelter may perform emergency euthanasia on an animal by gunshot.

  • Kentucky Revised Statute § 258.095 defines animal euthanasia.
  • § 258.505 regulates the use of gunshot as the method of euthanasia.
  • § 321.207 regulates certifications to perform animal euthanasia.
  • Related regulation include Section 201 Kentucky Administrative Regulation 16:090 (Certification).
  • Those who may perform euthanasia:
    • Licensed veterinarians.
    • Registered veterinary technicians employed and supervised by a licensed veterinarian.
    • Certified animal euthanasia specialists.
  • Veterinary clinics may possess the means of euthanasia.
  • Certified animal control agencies may posess the means of euthanasia if they employ a certified specialist with board approval.
  • Acceptable methods for euthanasia:
    • Sodium pentobarbital.
    • Sodium pentobarbital with lidocaine.
    • Any drugs approved by the board.
    • Methods specified as acceptable by the AVMA Panel on Euthanasia.

Louisiana

Louisiana does not specify any conditions for emergency euthanasia.

  • Louisiana Law Revised Statute 37:1552 defines animal euthanasia.
  • Revised Statutes 40:1032, 40:1034, and 40:1035 regulate permits.
  • Related regulations include Louisiana Administrative Codes Title 46, Part LXXXV § 1200 (Definitions), § 1209 (Pre-Euthanasia Restraint), and § 1223 (Security of Sodium Pentobarbital).
  • Sodium pentobarbital is generally the only acceptable method of euthanasia.
  • Dogs and cats may be euthanized by intracardiac injection if and only if they have been anesthetized so as to render them completely unconcious and insensitive to pain.
  • Licensed veterinarians and certified animal euthanasia technicians may perform euthanasia.
  • Organizations that may possess the means for euthanasia:
    • Veterinary clinics.
    • Animal control agencies with a certified euthanasia technician on staff.
    • Facilities with a certified euthanasia tehcnician on staff.

Maine

Gunshot is only an acceptable method of euthanasia in cases of emergency and only when using a weapon that will produce instant death with a single shot.

  • Title 17 Maine Revised Statutes A § 1041 regulates euthanasia by prescribed methods.
  • § 1042 defines authorized personnel.
  • § 1043 defines emergency methods of euthansaia.
  • § 1044 regulates tranquilizers for dogs and cats.
  • Licensed veterinarians and certified euthanasia technicians may perform animal euthanasia.
  • Veterinary clinics may possess the means to perform euthanasia.
  • Licensed animal shelters may possess the means if and only if they employ both a consulting veterinarian and a certified euthanasia technician.
  • The acceptable method of animal euthanasia is a barbiturate overdose administered via intravenous, intraperitoneal, intrathoracic, or intracardial injection.

Maryland

Maryland does not specify any conditions for emergency euthanasia.

  • Civil code Maryland Code, Agriculture, § 2-305 regulates sodium pentobarbital and humane societies.
  • Related regulations include Code of Maryland Regulations 15.14.04.06 (Responsible Individual) and 15.14.04.09 (Training Requirements).
  • In addition to licensed veterinarians, designated employees of an animal control facility may perform euthanasia.
  • In addition to veterinary clinics, Board licensed animal control facilities may possess the means to perform euthanasia.
  • Sodium pentobarbital is the only acceptable method of euthanasia.

Massachusetts

In cases of emergency euthanasia, the only acceptable methods are administration of barbiturates or gunshot.

  • Massachusetts General Law 140 § 136A defines animal euthanasia.
  • § 151A regulates the conditions under which animal control officers may execute a warrant.
  • § 174A regulates euthanasia of dogs and cats with barbiturates.
  • Licensed veterinarians may perform euthanasia.
  • Animal control officers are also authorized to perform euthanasia if they use a manner and method approved by the AVMA Guidelines on Euthanasia.
  • Veterinary clinics and animal control entities may possess the means for animal euthanasia.
  • The acceptable method of euthanasia is administration of barbiturates in a manner approved by the AVMA Guidelines on Euthanasia.

Michigan

Michigan is one of the only states that specifies that dogs used in fighting operations are eligible for emergency euthanasia.

  • Michigan Compiled Law 333.7109 defines animal euthanasia.
  • Law 333.7333 regulates controlled substances for euthanasia.
  • Law 750.49 delineates treatment of confiscated animals used in criminal activity.
  • Additional regulations include Michigan Administrative Codes R 338.3502 (Permit), .3506 & .3507 (Training), and .3510 & .3511 (Use and Storage of Sodium Pentobarbital).
  • Sodium pentobarbital is the only acceptable method of euthanasia.
  • Those who may perform euthanasia:
    • Licensed veterinarians.
    • Specially trained employees of animal control shelters.
    • Specially trained Class B dealears and their employees.
  • Organizations that may possess the means for euthanasia:
    • Veterinary clinics.
    • Dog pounds.
    • Licensed animal shelters registered with the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.
    • Class B dealers.

Minnesota

Minnesota is the only state that requires kennels and kennel dealers to establish and maintain a program of euthanasia.

  • Minnesota Statute § 347.58 regulates licensing and inspections of persons and facilities that may perform euthanasia.
  • Related regulations include Minnesota Rules Part 1721.0520 (Kennels), Part 9100.0700 (Unprofessional Conduct), and Part 9100.0800 (Minimum Standards of Practice).
  • If an animal bites a human and the owner can provide no proof of rabies vaccination, the animal will be euthanized and tested for rabies immediately.
  • Acceptable methods of euthanasia a specified only as “euthanizing drugs.”
  • Those who may perform euthanasia:
    • Licensed veterinarians.
    • Commercial breeders.
    • Kennels and kennel dealers under the supervision of a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine.
  • Organizations that may possess the means for euthanasia:
    • Veterinary clinics.
    • Animal shelters.
    • Government animal control facilities.

Mississippi

Mississippi is one of the only states that had no law regarding acceptable methods of euthanasia.

  • Mississippi Code § 73-39-61 regulates veterinary practices and exemptions from licensing requirements.
  • § 97-41-3 regulates the killing of injured or “useless” animals.
  • Veterinary clinics and animal shelters may possess the means to euthanize animals.
  • A sheriff, constable, police officer, or agent of the SPCA may euthanize a neglected or abandoned dog or cat if at least “three (3) respectable citizens” declare the animal injured, diseased, or “by age has become useless.”
  • Those who may perform euthanasia:
    • Licensed veterinarians.
    • Animal shelter employees under supervision or specially authorized by the board.
    • Law enforcement officers.
    • Employees of an agency or department charged with the control or welfare of dogs or cats.
    • Employees or agents of nonprofit organizations that exist to protect the welfare of and prevent cruelty to dogs or cats.

Missouri

Animals in custody that are considered to have unrelievable pain, distress, or disease may undergo emergency euthanasia at the expense of the licensee.

  • Missouri Statute 273.325 defines animal euthanasia.
  • Statute 273.335 regulates euthanasia in cases of chronic pain or disease.
  • Statute 273.345 defines specifics of the Canine Cruelty Prevention Act.
  • Additional regulations include Section 2 of the Missouri Code of State Regulations 30-9.010 (Animal Care Facilities) and Section 20, 2270-4.060 (Minimum Standards for Supervision).
  • Those who may perform euthanasia:
    • Licensed veterinarians.
    • Registered veterinary technicians under the direct supervision of a licensed veterinarian.
    • Temporary licensees under the direct supervision of a licensed veterinarian.
    • Veterinary students under the immediate supervision of a licensed veterinarian.
  • Organizations that may possess the means for euthanasia:
    • Veterinary clinics.
    • Animal shelters.
    • Specially licensed facilities.
  • Acceptable methods for euthanasia are any that:
    • Cause death in a humane or instantaenous manner.
    • Follow guidelines and procedures established by the director of the Department of Agriculture.
    • Conform to the AVMA Panel on Euthanasia.

Montana

Montana is one of few states that have no legislation regarding emergency euthanasia.

  • Montana Code 37-18-602 defines animal euthanasia.
  • Code 37-18-603, -604, and -605 regulate certifications.
  • Additional regulations include Montana Administrative Regulations 24.224.907 (Training), .920 (Application for Certified Agencies), .930 (Approved Drugs), and .950 (Unprofessional Conduct).
  • Veterinary clinics and certified euthanasia agencies may possess the means of euthanasia.
  • Sodium pentobarbital is the only acceptable method of euthanasia specified.
  • Those who may perform euthanasia:
    • Licensed veterinarians.
    • Certified euthanasia technicians.
    • Support personnel under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian.

Nebraska

Nebraska is one of two states that authorize breeders to perform euthanasia, the other being Minnesota.

  • Nebraska Revised Statute § 54-2503 defines animal euthanasia.
  • § 54-641.02 regulates euthanasia for dogs under a breeder’s care.
  • Additional regulations include Nebraska Administrative Rules & Regulations Title 23, Ch. 18, § 003 (Definitions) and Tit. 172, Ch. 180, § 004 (Standards of Supervision).
  • Veterinary clinics are the only entities authorized to possess the means of animal euthanasia.
  • Acceptable methods for euthanasia include any controlled substance used for the purposes of humane euthanasia in accordance with the AVMA.
  • Sodium pentobarbital is the only drug explicitly defined as acceptable for animal euthanasia.
  • Those who may perform euthanasia:
    • Licensed veterinarians.
    • Licensed veterinarian technicians under direct supervision of a licensed veterinarian.
    • Commercial dog breeders.
    • Commercial dog and cat operators.

Nevada

Nevada has some of the strictest regulations regarding euthanasia agent sodium pentobarbital and its administration.

  • Nevada Revised Statute 453.381 limits the possession, transport, and administration of controlled substances, including those for euthanasia.
  • Statute 638.005 defines a euthanasia technician.
  • Related regulations include:
    • Nebraska Administrative Code 638.505 (Duties of Euthanasia Technicians).
    • Code 638.510 (Possession and Administration of Sodium Pentobarbital).
    • Code 638.515 (Standards for Injection of Animals).
    • Code 638.520 (Injecion of Sodium Pentobarbital and Verification of Death).
    • Code 638.525 (Oral Administration of Sodium Pentobarbital).
    • Sodium pentobarbital is the only substance specifically authorized for use in animal euthanasia.
  • Those who may perform euthanasia:
    • Licensed veterinarians.
    • Veterinarian technicians under the direct supervision of a licensed veternarian.
    • Euthanasia technicians.
  • Organizations that may possess the means for euthanasia:
    • Veterinary clinics.
    • Law enforcement agnecies.
    • Animal control agencies.
    • SPCAs with a euthanasia technician on staff.

New Hampshire

There is no legislation that regulates methods of euthanasia or emergency euthanasia.

  • No civil codes regulate animal euthanasia.
  • Regulations related to animal euthanasia include the New Hampshire Code Administrative Regulations, Agriculture 1704.05 (Animal Health and Husbandry Standards).
  • Licensed veternarians may perform euthanasia or may supervise and assist an animal caretaker as they perform euthanasia.
  • Veterinary clinics are the only organizations authorized to possess the means of animal euthanasia.

New Jersey

It is illegal to use hypoxia as a method of euthanasia.

  • New Jersey Statute 45:16-14 defines animal euthanasia.
  • Related regulations include New Jersey Administrative Code § 8:23A – 1.11 (Euthanasia).
  • Veterinary clinics and animal shelters may possess the means to euthanize animals.
  • Those who may perform euthanasia:
    • Licensed veterinarians.
    • Persons under the direct supervision of a licensed veterinarian.
    • Anyone certified by a licensed veterinarian.
  • Acceptable methods for euthanasia:
    • Intravenous injection of barbiturate(s).
    • Inhalant anesthetics.
    • Injectable solutions approved for use in dogs and cats.
    • For horses, an intravenous injection of combinations of chloral hydrate, megnesium sulfate, and pentobarbital is acceptable.

New Mexico

  • New Mexico Statute 1978, § 77-1B-2 defines animal euthansia.
  • § 77-1B-6 regulates licenses for euthanasia technicians.
  • § 77-1B-7 regulates certification for euthanasia instructors.
  • § 77-1B-8 regulates inspection of euthanasia agencies and exemptions.
  • Related regulations include New Mexico Administrativ Codes 16.24.1 (Animal Sheltering), 16.24.2 (Licensure and Certification), 16.24.3 (Duties of Licensees), and 16.24.6 (Formulary for Euthanasia Technicians).
  • Licensed veterinarians and licensed euthanasia technicians may perform euthanasia.
  • Law enforcement officers may only perform euthanasia in cases of emergency and only via gunshot.
  • Veterinary clinics and licensed euthanasia agencies are permitted to possess the means of animal euthanasai.
  • Acceptable methods for euthanasia:
    • FDA approved sodium pentobarbital euthanasia solution.
    • Schedule II nonnarcotic substances defined for use in animal euthanasia by the Controlled Substances Act (CSA).
    • Schedule III nonnarcotic substances defined for use in animal euthanasia by the CSA.
    • Any other board approved euthanasia solutions.

New York

Any police officer may euthanize an animal either with the owner’s consent or with a written certification from a licensed veterinary surgeon.

  • New York Consolidated Laws, Agriculture and Market Law § 374 regulates animal euthanasia.
  • Related regulations include Title 10 of New York Codes, Rules, and Regulations § 80.2 (Exemptions) and § 80.134 (Authorization).
  • Sodium pentobarbital and sodium pentobarbital solutions are the only acceptable methods of euthanasia.
  • Those who may perform euthanasia:
    • Licensed veterinarians.
    • Certified euthanasia technicians.
    • Licensed veterinary technicians.
    • Authorized agents of an incorporated SPCA.
  • Organizations that may possess the means for euthanasia:
    • Veterinary clinics.
    • Authorized and incorporated SPCAs.
    • Municipal animal control facilities.
    • Pounds maintained by or under contract with any city, town, or village.

North Carolina

North Carolina is one of the few states that authorizes the use of carbon monoxide gas in animal euthanasia.

  • North Carolina Statute § 19A-23 defines animal euthanasia.
  • Statute § 19A-24 delineates the powers of the Board of Agriculture.
  • Related regulations include Title 2 of North Carolina Administrative Codes Section 52J:
    • .0210 (Veterinary Care)
    • .0403 (Definitions).
    • .0404 (Certification Requirements for Euthanasia Technicians).
    • .0501 (Intracardiac Injection).
    • .0601 (Carbon Monoxide Equipment).
    • .0602 (Prohibited Uses).
    • .0605 (Chamber Requirements).
    • .0609 (Persons Required to be Present).
  • Only licensed veterinarians and certified euthanasia technicians may perform euthanasia.
  • Organizations that may possess the means for euthanasia:
    • Veterinary clinics.
    • Certified animal shelters.
    • Certified kennels.
    • Certified pet shops.
  • Acceptable methods for euthanasia:
    • Carbon monoxide (under strict guidelines).
    • Intracardiac injection of unspecified substances.
    • Any method of euthanasia approved by the AVMA, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) or the American Humane Association (AHA).

North Dakota

North Dakota authorizes employees of the state’s Department of Agriculture to euthanize via unspecified methods animals that present clear, clinical signs of rabies.

  • North Dakota Century Code 23-36-01 defines animal euthanasia.
  • Code 23-36-03 regulates enforcement authority.
  • Related regulations include North Dakota Administrative Code 87-05-02-01 (Unprofessional Conduct).
  • Only licensed veterinarians may perform animal euthanasia.
  • The acceptable method is to use unspecified euthanizing drugs “to induce the most rapid, painless, and distress-free death possible”.
  • Organizations that may possess the means for euthanasia:
    • Veterinary clinics.
    • Animal shelters.
    • Government animal control facilities.

Ohio

Law enforcement officers may kill a dog that attacks a police dog, and anyone may kill a dog that attacks or pursues humans or other domestic creatures.

  • Ohio Revised Code § 955.28 regulates how dogs may be killed for committing certain acts.
  • Revised Code § 4729.531 regulates licensure for euthanasia.
  • § 4729.532 regulates the method and requirements for animal euthanasia.
  • Related regulations include Ohio Administrative Codes:
    • 901:1-6-05 (Health).
    • 4729-14-01 (Definitions) and -03 (Qualifications).
    • 4741-1-09 (Euthanasia and Disposal) and -23 (Certification).
  • Veterinary clinics and licensed animal shelters may possess the means for animal euthanasia.
  • Pentobarbital solutions are the only specified method of euthanasia approved.
  • Other substances may be used if and only if they are approved by rule by both the state veterinary medical licensing board and the state board of pharmacy.
  • Those who may perform euthanasia:
    • Licensed veterinarians.
    • Veterinary technicians.
    • Certified euthanasia technicians.

Oklahoma

Oklahoma is one of few states that authorizes the use of carbon monoxide gas as a means of euthanasia.

  • Title 4 of Oklahoma Statues, § 501 regulates disposal of euthanized animals.
  • § 502 and § 503 regulate possession and administration of methods of euthanasia.
  • Related regulations include Section 775 of the Oklahoma Administrative Code:
    • § 10-8-2 (Definitions).
    • § 10-8-10 (Duties of Animal Euthanasia Technicians).
    • § 10-8-12 (Registration) and -13 (Authority).
    • § 10-8-16 through -19 (Standards for Euthanasia).
  • Those who may perform euthanasia:
    • Licensed veterinarians.
    • Certified euthanasia technicians.
    • Specially trained personnel supervised by a licensed veterinarian.
    • Specially registered animal control officers.
  • Organizations that may possess the means for euthanasia:
    • Veterinary clinics.
    • Animal control agencies.
    • Law enforcement agencies.
    • Animal shelters.
  • Acceptable methods for euthanasia:
    • Denatured sodium pentobarbital.
    • Carbon monoxide.
    • Any method approved by the Animal Indistries Service Division of the State Department of Agriculture.

Oregon

Oregon has no legislation regarding emergency euthanasia.

  • Oregon Revised Statute § 475.190 regulates chemical means of animal euthanasia.
  • Statute § 686.040 regulates licensing requirements.
  • § 686.510 defines a Euthanasia Task Force.
  • Related regulations include Oregon Administrative Rules:
    • 875-005-0005 (Definitions).
    • 875-015-0030 (Minimum Veterinary Practice Standards).
    • 875-040-0000 (Certification of Technicians).
    • 855-080-0100 (Animal Euthanasia).
  • Only licensed veterinarians and certified euthanasia technicians may perform animal euthanasia.
  • Organizations that may possess the means for euthanasia:
    • Veterinary clinics.
    • Humane societies.
    • Animal control agencies.
  • Acceptable methods for euthanasia:
    • Sodium pentobarbital.
    • Sedative and analgesic medications.
    • Any substance approved by the Oregon State Veterinary Medical Examining Board.

Pennsylvania

A person or animal protection service may euthanize an animal via gunshot in emergency situations, such as when the animal is a threat to other lives.

  • Title 3 Pennsylvania Statues § 328.102 defines animal euthanasia.
  • Statutes § 328.301 through .305 regulate legal methods, including administration of agents of euthanasia.
  • Methods must be approved by the FDA.
  • Those who may perform euthanasia:
    • Licensed veterinarians.
    • Certified veterinary technicians under the direct supervision of a licensed veterinarian.
    • Certified euthanasia technicians.
    • Employees or agents of animal control organizations.
    • Employees or agents of licensed animal protection organizations.
    • Employees or agents of licensed shelters.
  • Organizations that may possess the means for euthanasia:
    • Veterinary clinics.
    • Licensed animal protection organizations.
    • Animal control organizations.
  • Banned methods of euthanasia include:
    • Drowning.
    • Decompression chambers.
    • Carbon monoxide gas from any source.

Rhode Island

Animal control officers and administrators, approved humane investigators, and animal shelter employees may be authorized to perform emergency euthanasia via gunshot in the absence of a lacensed veterinarian.

  • General Laws 1956 § 4-19-2 defines animal euthanasia.
  • § 4-1-3.1 defines prohibited practices of animal euthanasia..
  • § 4-19-12 regulates euthanasia based on disposition.
  • Only licensed veterinarians or their approved agents may perform euthanasia.
  • The acceptable methods of animal euthanasia are any that produce painless, instant unconsciousness and immediate death.
  • Organizations that may possess the means for euthanasia:
    • Veterinary clinics.
    • Animal shelters.
    • Minicipal pounds.
    • Humane societies.
    • Pet shops.
    • Breeders.
    • Kennels.
    • Other specially licensed entities.
  • Banned methods of animal euthanasia:
    • Carbon monoxide.
    • Gas chamber.
    • Decompression chamber.

South Carolina

  • Code 1976 § 47-3-410 and -420 define animal shelters and allowable methods of euthanasia.
  • Code § 47-3-620 regulates unlawful injury, including euthanasia, to police animals.
  • Related regulations include South Carolina Code of Regulations Rule 120-9 (Practice Standards).
  • Those who may perform euthanasia:
    • Licensed veterinarians.
    • Licensed veterinary technicians under the direct supervision of a licensed veterinarian.
    • Euthanasia technicians.
    • Trained and certified employees of the Department of Natural Resources.
  • Organizations that may possess the means for euthanasia:
    • Veterinary clinics.
    • Animal shelters.
    • Licensed governmental animal control agencies.
    • Licensed Department of Natural Resources entities.
  • Acceptable methods for euthanasia:
    • Sodium pentobarbital.
    • Sodium pentobarbital derivatives.
    • Substances clinically proven humane and recognized as such by the AVMA may be used on dogs and cats.
  • Banned methods for euthanasia:
    • Carbon monoxide.
    • Carbon dioxide.
    • Any non-anesthetic inhalants.

South Dakota

Peace officers and officers or agents of humane societies may use any necessary means to neutralize animals that pose an immediate danger.

  • South Dakota Codified Law § 40-1-13 regulates euthanisia for animals that are fatally injured or diseased.
  • Codified Law § 40-1-21 regulates euthanasia as animal cruelty and mistreatment.
  • § 40-1-24 and -25 regulate legal authority and enforcement.
  • Related regulations include Administrative Rule 12:68:20:03 (Methods of Euthanasia).
  • Only licensed veterinarians may perform euthanasia.
  • Only licensed veterinarians and municipality animal control may possess the means to euthanize animals.
  • Acceptable methods are those that cause instantaneous unconsciousness and immediate, painless death with no evidence of distress.

Tennessee

Law enforcement officers and local animal control units are authorized to euthanize animals in accordance with strict emergency euthanasia regulations.

  • Tennessee Code, Animals § 44-17-303 regulates methods of animal euthanasia.
  • § 44-17-304 ensures a three-day holding period for stray or wandering animals.
  • § 63-12-141 regulates euthanasia drugs as controlled substances.
  • Related regulations include Tennessee Comptroller Rules and Regulations, Section 1730:
    • § 04-.01 and § 05-.01 (Definitions).
    • § 04-.11 and § 05-.11 (Unprofessional Conduct).
    • § 04-.13 and § 05-.13 (Dispensing Pharmaceuticals).
  • Lethal injection of sodium pentobarbital and agents specifically approved by the rules of the Board of Veterinary Medicine are the only acceptable methods of animal euthanasia.
  • Those who may perform euthanasia:
    • Licensed veterinarians.
    • Specially trained Tennessee veterinary technicians.
    • Employees or agents of public animal shelters and licensed care facilities.
    • Employees or agents of private animal shelters and licensed care facilities.
  • Organizations that may possess the means for euthanasia:
    • Veterinary clinis.
    • Certified animal control agencies.
    • Public animal shelters and licensed care facilities.
    • Private animal shelters and licensed care facilities.

Texas

In emergency situations, non-veterinarians may act on the order of a licensed veterinarian via directions communicated by means of telephone, email, electronic messaging, radio, or facsimile communication.

  • Texas Health and Safety Code § 821.052 through § 821.055 regulate methods and requirements for euthanasia and euthanasia technicians.
  • Veterinary clinics and animal shelters may legally possess the means of animal euthanasia.
  • Those who may perform euthanasia:
    • .
  • Organizations that may possess the means for euthanasia:
    • .
  • Acceptable methods for euthanasia:
    • Compressed carbon monoxide.
    • Shelters may only use sodium pentobarbital when euthanizing dogs and cats.
    • For animals other than dogs and cats, shelters may euthanize animals in accordance with recommendations of the AVMA Guidelines for Euthanasia.

Utah

Utah has no emergency euthanasia legislation.

  • Utah Code 1953 § 58-17b-102 defines animal euthanasia.
  • Codes 1953 § 58-28-307 and -502 define exemptions and unprofessional conduct respectively.
  • Licensed veterinarians and animal shelter employees acting under indirect supervision of a licensed veterinarian are authorized to perform animal euthanasia.
  • Veterinary clinics and animal euthanasia agencies may possess the means of euthanasia.
  • Regulations specify only that animal euthanasia may be performed with the use of prescription drugs.

Vermont

Vermont has no legislation regarding emergency animal euthanasia.

  • Title 13 Vermont Statue § 317 regulates euthanizing animals.
  • Title 20 Statute § 3913 regulates certification to perform euthanasia.
  • Related regulations include Vermont Administrative Codes 2-4-305:
    • I (Definitions).
    • II (Euthanasia Board).
    • III (Who May Administer).
    • IV (Certified Euthanasia Technicians).
    • V (Certification Standards for Animal Shelters).
  • Only veterinary clinics and registered animal shelters may possess the means to perform animal euthanasia.
  • Those who may perform euthanasia:
    • Licensed veterinarians.
    • Certified euthanasia technicians.
    • Persons in training in a certification training program.
  • Acceptable methods for euthanasia:
    • Approved euthanasia solutions.
    • Lethal drugs.
    • Chemical restraint drugs.

Virginia

Licensed veterinarians may euthanize sick or injured animals without permission from the owner if the owner cannot be immediately located.

  • Virginia Code § 3.2-6500 defines animal euthanasia.
  • Code § 3.2-6505 prohibits the use of decompression chambers or gas chambers as methods of animal euthanasia.
  • § 3.2-6507 regulates action by a veterinarian in the event of a sick or injured animal.
  • § 3.2-6546 regulates public animal shelters.
  • § 3.2-6562 regulates capture and confinement.
  • § 3.2-6563 delineates animal euthanasia procedures.
  • § 3.2-6556 regulates euthanasia training for animal control officers.
  • § 54.1-3423 regulates registration authorizations.
  • Related regulations include Title 18 of the Virginia Administrative Code 110-20-580 (Humane Societies and Animal Shelters).
  • The use of decompression chambers and gas chambers in the course of performing animal euthanasia is expressly prohibited.
  • Those who may perform euthanasia:
    • Licensed veterinarians.
    • Certified euthanasia technicians.
    • Animal control officers.
    • Humane investigators.
  • Organizations that may possess the means for euthanasia:
    • Veterinary clinics.
    • Humane societies registered by the Board of Pharmacy.
    • Animal shelters registered by the Board of Pharmacy.
  • Acceptable methods for euthanasia:
    • Certain Schedule II controlled substances approved by the State Veterinarian.
    • Certain Schedule III controlled substances approved by the State Veterinarian.
    • Certain Schedule IV controlled substances approved by the State Veterinarian.

Washington

Law enforcement officers are authorized to euthanize animals that have been seriously injured. Officers must attempt to contact the owner of the animal and consult with a licensed veterinarian if possible.

  • The Revised Code of Washington 16.52.011 defines animal euthanasia and principles of liability.
  • Revised Code 16.52.210 regulates law enforcement officer liability.
  • Code 69.41.080 regulates animal control’s use of drugs.
  • Related regulations include Washington Administrative Codes:
    • Chapter 246-886-010 (Definitions).
    • 246-886-030, -035, -040, and -040 (Approved Drugs, Training, and Administration).
    • 246-886-060 (Responsible Individuals).
    • 246-935-050 (Animal Health Care).
  • Sodium pentobarbital is the only authorized method of animal euthanasia.
  • Those who may perform euthanasia:
    • Licensed veterinarians.
    • Veterinary technicians under the indirect supervision of a veterinarian.
    • Specially trained personnel of a registered humane society.
    • Specially trained personnel of a registered animal control agency.
    • Unregistered assistants under the direct supervision of a veterinarian.
  • Organizations that may possess the means for euthanasia:
    • Veterinary clinics.
    • Humane societies’ designated responsible individual (see Administrative Code 246-886-060).
    • Animal control agencies’ designated responsible individual.

West Virginia

In cases of emergency euthanasia, animal euthanasia via gunshot by a shooter trained in the use of firearms is acceptable provided instaneous death can be achieved with a single shot.

  • West Virginia Code, § 30-10-3 defines animal euthanasia.
  • Code § 19-20-8 regulates impounding dogs.
  • § 30-10-13 through -15 delineate requirements for animal euthanasia technicians.
  • Related regulations includes State Rules:
    • § 26-4-2 (Definitions).
    • § 26-5-3 (Certified Animal Euthanasia Technicians).
    • § 26-5-7 (Chemical Restraint Drugs).
    • § 26-5-8 (Disciplinary Action).
  • Only licensed veterinarians and supervised certified euthanasia technicians may perform animal euthanasia.
  • Organizations that may possess the means for euthanasia:
    • Veterinary clinics.
    • Municipal or county animal control facilities.
    • Humane societies.
    • Animal shelters.
  • Acceptable methods for euthanasia:
    • Hypodermic injection of sodium pentobarbital.
    • Any humane procedure approved by the AVMA, HSUS, or AHA.
    • Any county that had a gas chamber in operation prior to 2009 may continue to utilize it for animal euthanasia under certain conditions.

Wisconsin

If a law enforcement officer, humane officer, or poiltical subdivision* believes an animal to be dangerous, the animal may be euthanized with no liability or damages due.

  • Wisconsin Statute 173.19 defines an unclaimed animal.
  • Statute 173.23 regulates euthanasia based on disposition.
  • 173.25 regulates immunity for animal euthanasia.
  • Related regulations include Wisconsin Administrative Codes § ATCP 16.20 (Dog Care) and § VE 1.02 (Definitions).
  • The only acceptable methods of animal euthanasia are those described the AVMA’s Guidelines on Euthanasia, Appendix 1.
  • Those who may perform euthanasia:
    • Licensed veterinarians.
    • Political subdivisions that have custody of an animal that is considered unwanted or unclaimed.
    • Individual persons who have custody of an animal that is considered unwanted or unclaimed.
  • Organizations that may possess the means for euthanasia:
    • Veterinary clinics.
    • Custodial politial subdivisions.
    • Custodial individual persons.

*Political subdivisions are government entities under counties, states, districts, public departments, etc.

Wyoming

Wyoming has no legislation regarding emergency euthanasia.

  • Wyoming Statute 1977 § 33-30-202 defines animal euthanasia.
  • Statute 1977 § 33-30-223 and -224 regulate certification and requirements for animal euthanasia.
  • Statue § 35-7-1010 regulates how administrative agencies execute registrations.
  • Related regulations include Wyoming Rules and Regulations:
    • 013.0001.1 § 6 (Terms Defined).
    • 013.0001.3 § 1 (Requirements for Certification).
    • 251.0001.10 § 3 (Animal Euthanasia Training).
    • 251.0001.10 § 9 (Standards).
    • Air Education and Training Command (AETC) Chapter 1 Section 5 (Terms Defined).
    • AETC Ch. 3 § 2 (Animal Euthanasia Training).
    • AETC Ch. 6 § 1, 2, and 4 (Standards).
  • Veterinary clinics are the only organizations that may possess the means for euthanasia.
  • Those who may perform euthanasia:
    • Licensed veterinarians.
    • Certified animal euthanasia technicians.
    • Employees of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department may euthanaize wildlife.
  • Acceptable methods for euthanasia:
    • Schedule I pentobarbital-based drugs.
    • Pentobarbital-based drugs labeled by the manufacture for the purpose of animal euthanasia.
    • Methods currently approved by the AVMA, HSUS, AHA, or the National Animal Control Association.

International Euthanasia Laws

Different cultures have different attitudes toward certain animals or toward animals in general. For example, Americans keep guinea pigs as pets; in Peru, however, guinea pig is a favorite entree.

  • In 1687, Japan passed one of the earliest animal rights laws, which prohibited the killing of any animal.
  • In 2003, Costa Rica banned animal euthanasia as a method of population control, the first country in the Americas to do so.
  • The United Kingdom has the strictist animal rights laws in the world, punishing unauthorized euthanasia with a hefty fine, jail time, and a lifetime ban from animal ownership.
  • 32 countries legally recognize animals as sentient beings and protect them from unnecessary euthanasia.
  • 12 countries have no animal rights laws at all.

General Statistics About Euthanasia in Animal Shelters

The decline in euthanasia can be at least partially attributed to a reduction in shelter intake overall; smaller shelter populations mean fewer animals need volunteer attention, space to live and sleep, and medical care.

  • Animal shelters euthanize 4,121 animals every day.
  • Pit bulls have the highest shelter euthanasia rate at 93%.
  • 35 states have laws about how long a shelter must hold an animal before authorizing euthanasia.
  • In states with such laws, minimum holding periods range from 48 hours to 10 days.
  • It’s estimated that 90-99% of euthanized animals are adoptable.
  • The average cost to capture, hold, and euthanize a stray animal is $100.

Sources

  1. Animal Shelter Euthanasia
  2. ASPCA Pet Statistics
  3. The Tragedy of America’s Dog
  4. Pets By the Numbers
  5. Model Laws: Humane Euthanasia of Animals
  6. Amerian Veterinary Medical Association Guidelines for the Euthanasia of Animals: 2020 Edition
  7. Trends in Intake and Outcome Data for Animal Shelters in a Large US Metropolitan Area, 1989 to 2010
  8. No Kill Advocacy Center: Statistics
  9. Most Wild Kittens Taken to Shelters Will Be Killed
  10. What Kinds of Pets Get Adopted
  11. SAFP: United States Facts and Figures
  12. Table of State Holding Laws
  13. Dog Shelter and Adoption Statistics
  14. Delaware is Now the First and Only No-Kill State for Shelter Animals in the US
  15. Michigan Becomes ‘No Kill’ State for Shelter Animals
  16. 11 Facts About Animal Homelessness
  17. What Influences a Dog’s Length of Stay at a No-Kill Animal Shelter?
  18. FDA Compliance Policy Guide Sec. 650.100 Animal Drugs for Euthanasia
  19. Brief Summary of Animal Euthanasia
  20. Animal Legal and Historical Center: Overview of Animal Euthanasia
  21. No-Kill Movement Timeline: A History of the Best Friends Animal Society
  22. Dog Population and Dog Sheltering Trends in the United States of America
  23. LA Animal Control: Live and Non Live Release History
  24. AHS: End-of-Life Services
  25. Franklin County Dog Shelter and Adoption Center: Statistics
  26. No-Kill 2025
  27. Defining No Kill Shelters
  28. Economic Euthanasia: A Harsh Reality
  29. Pet Insurance Really Does Pay: North America’s Top 10 Claims
  30. Euthanizing Pets Increasing as Vet Costs Rise
  31. Veterinarian’s Oath
  32. The Truth About Puppy Mills
  33. Animals Used in Research
  34. Management of Animal Care and Use Programs in Research, Education, and Testing
  35. Greyhound Racing: Life on the Racetrack
  36. Special Pals Shelter
  37. Detailed Discussion of Animal Euthanasia
  38. Puppy Mills: Millions of Dogs Suffer Needlessly to Create Pets
  39. Animal Welfare Act Public Law 89-544 Act of August 26, 1966
  40. No Kill Shelter: International
  41. Shelter Statistics for the City of Memphis
  42. Dallas Animal Services Statistical Reports
  43. Eating Cuy: Peruvian Guinea Pig Delicacy
  44. Removal of the Ban on Meat: The Meat-Eating Culture of Japan at the Beginning of Westernization
  45. Animal Welfare Law in the United Kingdom
  46. Costa Rica: The Only Pet No-Kill Nation in the Americas
  47. Animal Protections Around the World – The US Ranks Lower Than You Think
  48. Animal Rights Laws by Country or Territory
  49. Natural Disasters Reshape Animal Rescue
  50. State Animal Euthanasia Laws