An Oklahoma town has been getting rid of sick and unwanted dogs by throwing them into a hole and shooting them in the head, a practice that local animal rights activists are trying to put to an end, the Daily Beast is reporting.
For at least 40 years, the town of Bristow, Oklahoma – a town of about 4,000 people, some 30 miles east of Tulsa – has given its animal control officer wide discretion in how to put down feral dogs.
The man who currently holds that position, has a rather direct and, as he claims, cost-saving approach to the problem: drag the unwanted dog to a giant pit and shoot it in the head.
Local animal rights activist Beth Roberts says she learned about Bristow’s policy of shooting dogs after a volunteer at the animal shelter posted about the practice on social media. Through a Facebook group that has since been taken down, Roberts was able to get into contact with the shelter volunteer, who claims he or she dug holes for the dogs.
“It’s not humane, period. The way [Moore is] dragging them over, putting them in the hole first, then shooting them. We need to eliminate the practice of shooting these dogs in the head. It’s barbaric. It’s not up to the times. People are outraged.”
Barbaric or not, Bristow’s methods may be perfectly legal under Oklahoma law. According to state law, cities and towns with a population of under 10,000 may euthanize shelter animals through any means as long as it is an “acceptable, humane method.” The law does not specifically define what is meant by “acceptable” and “humane.”
Whether or not a gunshot to the head is “humane” is up for debate, particularly when it comes to the .22 caliber pistol that Moore uses to put down the unwanted dogs — mostly pit bulls. Roberts claims that such a small weapon doesn’t always end the dogs’ life instantly, and they suffer prolonged and painful deaths.
“The end of their life [is] just as terrifying as when they were picked up and put in the shelter.”
Bristow Mayor Leonard Washington, when contacted by phone, seemed taken aback that anyone would care about how the town deals with unwanted dogs, especially since they’ve been shooting them for as long as anybody could remember.
“This is something that’s been a practice for 40 years. I don’t know why it’s a controversy… why such outrage now?”
Washington also claims that Bristow has a perfectly good reason for euthanizing dogs by shooting them in the head: it saves money over paying a veterinarian to do it humanely with chemicals.
“Of course, you’re going to have costs when you take it to the vet,” the mayor continued. “If you got 20 dogs you’re going to put down in X amount of months, you’re going to incur a lot of costs. It’s a matter of how you want to deal with it.”
Meanwhile, animal rights group Oklahoma Alliance for Animals has launched a petition on Change.org calling on Bristow to adopt a more humane way of disposing of its unwanted dogs. Spokesperson Dana Gray says there are other options.
“So many other forms of euthanasia are more humane… and help is available.”
As of this writing, the petition has reached just over 2,300 signatures, although Bristow is not required by law to take any action on it.
Do you think that getting rid of feral dogs by shooting them in the head is an appropriate way of dealing with the problem? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
[Image via Shutterstock/Oliveshadow]