MEDINA, Ohio (AP) – About 30 people helped demolish a northern Ohio animal shelter’s gas chamber that was used to kill hundreds of stray cats annually before it was phased out amid public pressure.
The gas chamber was demolished in a public event Saturday in the parking lot of the Medina County Animal Shelter The Plain Dealer in Cleveland reported.
The society had invited people to take a sledge hammer to the gas chamber in exchange for a donation to the society.
Norma Houk, 84, of Seville, brought her own small sledgehammer and gave the chamber a couple whacks.
“I have asthma and know what it feels like to not be able to get enough air,” she said tearfully. “I can imagine what the animals went through.”
The debate over the fate of the carbon-monoxide chamber began after county commissioners voted unanimously in November to stop accepting cats at the county kennel, effectively ending the chamber’s use. The county stopped killing dogs in the chamber several years ago because of public opposition.
The county gave the chamber to the animal rights group after an anonymous resident offered to donate $10,000 to the group’s cat program if the chamber was destroyed.
County commissioners had earlier voted to sell the chamber in an online auction. But people protested that decision, and the commissioners voted in January to sell the chamber to the SPCA for $1 plus whatever amount a scrapyard pays for the metal.
Those participating in the demolition in Medina, donated a total of $2,500 to the SPCA to take part in the destruction, the newspaper reported.
Barbara Karadine, of Akron, also cried while striking the chamber.
“I’m so happy this is over,” she said.
“It was tough swinging the sledgehammer, but it felt good,” said the youngest participant, Noah Holland, 8, of Sharon Center.
Before the demolition, participants bowed their heads in a moment of silence for all of the animals that died in the chamber.
(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)