WHAT IS THE ISSUE ON TAMBUCHO-KILLING (GASSING VIA VEHICLE EXHAUST FUMES)
1. Why should tambucho-killing (gassing via vehicle exhaust fumes) be deleted from the AO on Euthanasia of Animals?
Cruelty. No veterinary organization in the world, no veterinarian can deny that killing an animal by putting it in a box and filling it up with exhaust fumes from a vehicle is inhumane. The animal suffers while it is being put to death for a full 10 minutes. This is not euthanasia or a “good death”.
Some veterinarians, who voted for the use of tambucho, attempt to hide this cruelty by saying that we should stop calling it “tambucho” and that it should be called “carbon monoxide” gassing. Proponents of tambucho-gassing state that this “carbon monoxide gassing” is the same “carbon monoxide gassing” that is still allowed in some states in the United States.
Carbon monoxide in its purest form is a colorless, odorless gas. In the Philippines, carbon monoxide cylinders are currently not available. The gassing that is therefore being done in the Philippines is not the same carbon monoxide gassing being conditionally approved but gassing via vehicle exhaust fumes.
Pure carbon monoxide gas is not emitted from a vehicle exhaust pipe- whether it be a gasoline-powered engine or diesel-powered engine.
The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), which is often quoted by vets voting for tambucho, has never agreed or conditionally agreed to gassing via vehicle exhaust fumes . NO veterinary association anywhere else in the world has conditionally agreed to gassing via vehicle exhaust fumes – even if it is from gasoline-powered engine.
Further, the vets who are for the retention of tambucho-killing often like to distinguish fumes from gasoline-power engine and fumes from diesel-powered engine. Both gasoline and diesel-power engine exhaust fumes are not allowed by AVMA)
2. When you vote to delete tambucho-killing, does this mean that other options are no longer made available to LGU vets in far-flung provinces who have no access to the drug?
No. There are other methods prescribed in the AO10 – with the preferred method being the injection of barbiturates as the number 1 recommendation.
Deletion of tambucho is being opposed because it is not a humane form of killing and therefore should not be under the “Rules on Euthanasia” under the “Animal Welfare Act”
Euthanasia means a “good death”. Dying via suffocation while fully conscious is not a humane death.
3. Some vet groups propose gassing via tambucho after the animals have been sedated. Will this make tambucho-killing okay?
To sedate an animal, there needs to be a licensed vet injecting a sedative. This double-step of sedating and then putting into the gas chamber is self-defeating in terms of:
– Manpower involved (Veterinarian + 2 or more persons hauling dog into the chamber, revving up engine, checking the safety of gas chamber). Conversely, an animal handler and a licensed veterinarian can do the euthanasia via injection of EUTHAL
– Drugs used (sedative will still be used and the cost that could have gone into the purchase of a sedative could have easily just gone into the purchase of EUTHAL)
4. Is the euthanasia drug available in the Philippines?
The drug was made available and the company that imported the drug last year was faced with a lot of expiring drugs because there was not much demand for it.
The reason? Per our current AO 13 under the Animal Welfare Act, which is still in force, tambucho-killing (Carbon monoxide gassing) is still legal.
Why would the LGU (local government unit) vets insist on using a much more expensive drug if they were still being allowed to kill unclaimed stray dogs through the much cheaper (but obviously, cruel) way of putting the dogs in a box and suffocating them by pumping exhaust fumes coming from vehicle engines. More often than not, LGU vets budgets are based on law requirements. If the law does not “require it”, it is often considered a frivolty by their superiors and budget for ‘frivolties’ are not usually approved.
Currently, EUTHAL is available – although expired last December 2010. Recently-expired EUTHAL still works as efficiently as non-expired EUTHAL.
Further, there is a way for suppliers to source out more of these drugs if only there is a demand for it.
5. What is an S2 license? We have often heard vets say that this is needed in order to handle euthanasia drugs. Is it difficult to get an S2 license?
An S2 license is a license that is secured from the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency or PDEA by physicians, dentists ,veterinarians, among other professions that use and handle dangerous drugs or controlled chemicals listed under RA 9165. (among these dangerous drugs is the euthanasia drug used by veterinarians on animals).
PDEA has outlined steps on how to secure an S2 license on their website and it is fairly simple for a professional with documents (ITR, license, etc). Some vets are able to secure their S2 license within an hour. PDEA has regional offices and it is fairly routine for an licensed medical professional to be getting or renewing this type of license yearly.
6. What is the role of a responsible veterinarian in the midst of the tambucho-issue?
The issue of having to resort to tambucho-killing opens the eyes of many vets to the problem of what really is euthanasia or humane killing. For many years, problems about availability of the drug arose only because there were not many vets lobbying for the drug to be made available at low-cost. For decades, vets in the Philippines have sourced euthanasia drugs in the black market. Now is the time for vet groups to step up to the plate and ensure that there is a demand for suppliers to be motivated to bring the costs down and import it into the Philippines.
An unclaimed stray dog at the pound does not deserve to suffer in death in the same way that dogs of clients who go to vet clinics will not be recommended vehicle-exhaust –fume-gassing even if these clients did not have the money.
Veterinary groups now have the opportunity to be at the forefront of lobbying to ensure that there is a way for animals to be put down humanely, and they have the animal welfare groups to help them with this campaign.