Thanks to police chief’s humane leadership, last animal shelter gas chamber in California is dismantled as state legislation advances to close loophole that allowed its use

June 3, 2016 – With financial, training and moral support from the San Francisco SPCA (SF SPCA) and The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), the City of Coalinga Animal Shelter today dismantled its gas chamber for good. Believed to be the last remaining shelter in California using any method other than the industry standard “euthanasia by injection,” Coalinga’s move paves the way for California to enact Assembly Bill 2505 (AB 2505) authored by Assemblyman Bill Quirk (D-Hayward), which would outlaw the use of carbon dioxide to kill dogs and cats in California.

Chief Michael Salvador of the Coalinga Police Department, which runs the shelter, has been very receptive to ending this practice and to making other improvements to the shelter’s animal care programs. “I am very grateful to the SF SPCA and The HSUS for the training and support they have provided,” said Chief Salvador. “With their mentorship and generosity, we are making meaningful changes to improving the quality of animal care in Coalinga.” Marin Humane Society also provided training of Coalinga animal shelter staff.

“This is a big step forward for shelter animals in Coalinga,” said Brandy Kuentzel, the SF SPCA’s Director of Advocacy, who is in Coalinga today to celebrate the milestone and load up dogs and cats to bring back for veterinary care and adoption in the Bay Area. “The use of carbon dioxide causes tremendous animal suffering and poses a major health concern for shelter employees.”


The SF SPCA and The HSUS are working with Assemblyman Quirk to pass AB 2505, which the Assembly approved unanimously. AB 2505 will be heard on June 14th by the Senate Public Safety Committee. Chief Salvador is planning to testify at the hearing in support of the bill.

“I applaud Chief Salvador and the City of Coalinga for boldly stepping up to end this practice and commit to treating homeless pets with dignity and care,” said Assemblyman Quirk. “I look forward to meeting Chief Salvador when he is in Sacramento next week.”

The HSUS is committed to ending the use of gas chambers nationwide. Twenty-one states have complete bans, and five more, including California, have partial bans (allowing the ongoing use of carbon dioxide). As of today’s closure in Coalinga, only four states are known to have active gas chambers in shelters.

“We are so pleased to provide a grant to the City of Coalinga for taking this important step today,” said Courtney Fern, California state director and community relations liaison for The HSUS, who handed  Coalinga’s shelter staff a check for $5,000 today during the ceremony. “We hope these funds can help the shelter meet life-saving goals.”

As experts in humane animal care and sheltering, the SF SPCA is pleased to have provided several thousand dollars’ worth of hands-on support, training and equipment to assist Coalinga in making this transition. Today’s mobile transport of homeless pets is the second time that the SF SPCA has generously provided veterinary care to Coalinga animals and helped find forever homes for the animals through its own adoption center.