Schlesinger voluntarily witnessed a mass execution at the Macon
Animal Shelter on the morning after Martin Luther King Day in
2008. As a newly-elected member of the Macon City Council, Rabbi
Schlesinger chose to observe the procedure in order to fairly
assess the gas chamber ban being considered by the Macon City
Council. This information was NOT provided to Shelter Reform by
Rabbi Schlesinger, but was assembled from his published and public
statements concerning his experience.
GA: Watching the gas chamber operate
Macon Animal Shelter - Morning of January 22,
March 24, 2009, Rachel Schaerr published an article about the
Macon Animal Shelter for WMGT (NBC 41). (We correct some of the
errors in that article here.)
This is what Ms. Schaerr published from her interview with the
While visiting the shelter, City Councilman
Larry Schlesinger says he was present when 17 animals were killed
in the gas chamber. "What I heard was about thirty seconds
of what I would term squealing," said Schlesinger. "It
sort of went a level beyond whining. And it just let me know,
this was through cinder block walls no less. "
After his experience, he and other city
council members joined forces to try and stop the use of carbon
monoxide in Macon's shelter. "A society is judged by the
way it treats the most vulnerable inhabitants, and I think we
could do a much better job," said Schlesinger.
March 9, 2009, Rabbi Larry Schlesinger delivered his testimony
to legislators in both the House and Senate of Georgia’s
General Assembly in support of HB 606 and SB 232 (bills that if
signed into law would have permanently banned gas chambers with
Rabbi Schlesinger testified that his
visit to the Macon pound was unannounced. Upon his arrival he
noted that the homemade metal receptacle into which the animals
are loaded for gassing was crammed full with 17 dogs. This surprised
him because the Council had been told that a maximum of 10 dogs
were gassed at any one time. Additionally, the Rabbi noticed
there were dogs of various sizes in the receptacle and they
were not separated as recommended by the AVMA.
Rabbi Schlesinger then described in detail the pitiful cries
of the dying dogs as they gasped for their last breaths, and
their certain terror, all of which are indelibly etched in his
memory after witnessing Macon’s inhumane procedure.
After the gassing, the presumably dead dogs were left in the
chamber, unattended, for several hours. When Rabbi Schlesinger
asked the person who had operated the chamber why the animals
were left in the chamber all day, the man answered, “To
be sure they’re dead.” The hideous experience ended
sometime in the afternoon when a dump truck arrived and the
contents of the chamber were simply dumped into the bed of the
truck, transported a short distance to the landfill, and discarded
When the sub-committee hearing was over, someone asked Rabbi
Schlesinger if the animals were not put into plastic bags before
being dumped into the landfill. The Rabbi said when he observed
the gassing, they were not; but at some point after his visit,
the pound began putting the bodies in bags because citizens
with children who had brought their household garbage to the
landfill had complained about the dead bodies piled up.
June 9, 2008, Rabbi Schlesinger’s comments made during meetings
of Macon’s subcommittee appointed to discuss legislation
to end the use of Macon’s gas chamber were recorded in the
following portion of Councilman Erickson’s blog:
During the subcommittee investigation,
the head of Animal Control said he needed about $150,000.00
to get lethal injection up and running. Curiously, on his inventory
list he said he would need stethoscopes. Rabbi Schlesinger,
on the subcommittee, asked why they did not have them already.
Animal Control is required to check each animal before disposal.
The head of Animal Control admitted that
Animal Control in Macon does not do that. He said they pile
all the animals in the pin together, lower them into the gas
chamber, and then raise them up. They make a visual inspection
to see if any of the animals are alive. They then leave the
animals for a dump truck that carries them off to the landfill.
The animals are not sedated. It is not
uncommon for animals in such a situation to tear each other
apart in a panic.
Council members Rabbi Larry Schlesinger and Nancy White were both
quoted in an article by 11th Hour. (IMPORTANT NOTE:
We at Shelter Reform do NOT agree with the way the article's
author attempts to impose a guilt trip upon the reader.)
Rabbi Larry Schlesinger is the only city
council member to witness Macon’s gas chamber in action.
He listened as seventeen dogs were euthanized.
“As they are lowered down, they
are behind concrete block walls so I couldn’t see anything.
It was what I heard through those walls that I remember,”
Schlesinger says. “There were 30 seconds of silence as
the gas was administered and then there was this, I would say,
30 seconds of high-pitched squealing, a chorus of squealing.
There was something going on in that chamber that was unnatural.
Then there was silence. There was a last squeal. I assume it
was a bigger dog that gave out that squeal that it took longer
for the carbon monoxide to take effect.”
After touring the animal shelter with
Schlesinger in January and hearing that nearly 4,000 animals—2794
dogs and 1166 cats last year—are put down this way, Ward
V Post 2 Council member Nancy White was convinced.
“We are judged as a community by
how we treat our animals,” White says. “We could
do so much better.”
“If you are putting down that number
of animals, you’ve got a problem. We have to address the
problem,” Schlesinger adds.
February 17, 2008, the Rabbi shared some of his testimony in a
he wrote to Representatives Tom McCall and Terry England, Chairman
and Vice Chairman respectively of the Georgia House Agriculture
and Consumer Affairs Committee regarding House Bill 1060 to ban
gas chambers in Georgia:
I never associated the sound of 'squealing'
with dogs until I witnessed (in my role as a newly elected Macon
city councilman) our Animal Control Office’s carbon monoxide
gassing of 17 dogs some two weeks ago.
The sounds of shrilled panic and desperation
that I heard through the gas chamber’s thick cinderblock
walls clearly indicated to me that those canines were quite
alert and conscious that something terribly out of the ordinary
was happening to them. Their chorus of ’squealings’
continues to haunt me, and as a result, I am thoroughly convinced
that there is nothing at all ‘humane’ about this
I would strongly urge you not to let
House Bill 1060 purposely die in your committee; instead, please
do the right and conscionable thing by doing your part to put
an end to what is truly a cruel and rather regressive procedure
that is still practiced in some lingering corners of this state.
Rabbi Larry Schlesinger
Macon City Council - Ward 3, Post 1
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