Thursday 17 June 2010

RSPCA announces decision to suspend use of bolt guns

17 Jun 2010 08:02

THE RSPCA has decided to suspend using the captive bolt gun as a method of euthanasia.

This follows an outcry when the charity put down ten German Shepherds this way.

The charity has issued a statement saying: “Following public concern expressed on this issue, we have decided to suspend the use of the captive bolt as an approach to euthanasia on any dogs, pending a review.

“Although there is no new scientific evidence on this issue, we do understand that putting animals to sleep does upset many people, so we have also decided to put our policy forward to external consultation, including by vets and independent scientists.

“The RSPCA is sensitive to public opinion, and we hope that by doing this it will reassure people that we are as open and transparent as possible.”

The German Shepherds belonged to a man from South Wales who had died weeks previously. The dogs had become feral, the charity said at the time, and were suffering severe skin conditions. A relative of the dead man had phoned the RSPCA for help.

The charity assessed the dogs and concluded they could not be rehomed due to ‘aggressive behaviour and lack of socialisation’. Officers decided that the most humane form of euthanasia would be to use the captive bolt.

Safest method

At the time a spokesman said: “This would minimise distress to the dogs, while also being the safest method for those people responsible for dealing with the animals.

Restraining the dogs and then shaving a limb to prepare for a lethal injection would have caused these animals unnecessary suffering, due to the animals suffering from a severe skin condition.”

As part of its recent deliberations on whether to use the method again, the charity asked the opinion of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS), and the matter was discussed by its Advisory Committee.

This week’s Veterinary Record states that an expert on slaughter methods had indicated to the RSPCA that the use of a captive bolt gun was a humane method of euthanasia. But the Advisory Committee decided that using it on smaller animals was inappropriate and that its use for the euthanasia of dogs was unlikely to be acceptable to the public. There were more appropriate methods, the committee agreed.

It was reported in the Veterinary Record that at the RCVS Council’s meeting, Roger Eddy questioned whether the decision had been made on the grounds of public acceptability or on the basis of science and veterinary knowledge. There were occasions where it was appropriate to use a captive bolt gun to kill a dog, he said, and they could be used to kill other smaller farm animals such as injured or unfit young pigs.

Guidance from the American Veterinary Medical Association indicated that use of a penetrating captive bolt gun was an effective and acceptable method of euthanasia for dogs, he said.

Mr Eddy thought the RCVS should not tell the RSPCA that the use of a captive bolt gun was unacceptable for reasons of public acceptability when there was scientific evidence saying that it was a sound method.

“We all know that this is not going to be a widespread use but I can promise you that there are times when it is necessary,” he said.

However, RCVS senior vice-president Jill Nute said that if the bolt gun was not positioned properly it might not kill the animal outright.

“The use of barbiturates is a better method if euthanasia for smaller animals,” she said.


  1. Given that we have moved a long way from the Caveman, I cannot believe the CBG is still considered acceptable by anyone for use on dogs, cats and rabbits! Surely every animal is entitled to a peaceful death? It's not just the actual use of the bolt, which is bad enough if not placed properly, but the dragging of a dog on a grasper and the pinning down. Then there is the Pithing of course. How can this ever be acceptable in 2010?
    I wonder how a human would feel if this method was adopted as Capital Punishment? People would be rioting on the streets!

  2. 'Mr Eddy thought the RCVS should not tell the RSPCA that the use of a captive bolt gun was unacceptable for reasons of public acceptabilit- y when there was scientific evidence saying that it was a sound method'.
    The RVC has more knowledge regarding animals than mr eddy or the rspca - how dare he have the gaul to think he knows better than they do and how dare he question them? The rspca is supposed to be an animal charity - they are not the leading authority on animals in this country. They need to realise that the 'public' provide their salaries and they need to listen carefully to what the public expects from them and then do it.
    Methinks the rspca has far, far too much power and needs to be taken down from their self built pedestal.


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