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Ohio county plans demolition of animal gas chamber

MEDINA, Ohio (AP) — An Ohio animal rights group is inviting the public to help destroy a gas chamber that was used to kill hundreds of stray cats annually before it was phased out amid public pressure.

In exchange for a donation to the Medina County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, people are invited to take a sledge hammer to the gas chamber in a parking lot later this month before it goes on a final ride to a scrapyard, according to The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer (http://bit.ly/1iuCQJK ).

The debate over the fate of the carbon-monoxide chamber began after county commissioners voted unanimously in November to stop accepting cats at the Medina County kennel and, therefore, end the use of it.

Thousands of dogs and cats, including 289 cats last year, were killed in the 20-year-old chamber. The county stopped killing dogs in the chamber several years ago because of public opposition.

The shelter 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. The county also is giving $13,000 to the SPCA to tackle its stray cat problem.

Before the donation offer, county commissioners had voted to sell the chamber in an online auction. 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.

The destruction will begin at 2 p.m. on March 22 in the parking lot of the SPCA offices.

"Donations can be cash or kitten food and formula," SPCA director Stephanie Moore said, "since we are coming up on kitten season."

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