Uk: Captive Bolt Guns To Kill Dogs – Why They Should Never Be Used






The use of the captive bolt pistol in dogs by vet- Andre Menache BSc(Hons) BVSc MRCVS

As a veterinary surgeon in animal welfare for almost 30 years, and having witnessed first-hand the effects of captive bolt stunning in dogs, I feel somewhat competent to express my view on this subject (1). Although this practice may be considered as acceptable in those parts of the world where veterinary resources are very limited, or where there is little concern for animal welfare, neither of these factors apply to 21st century UK.

The concussion caused by the captive bolt leads to destruction of parts of  the brain as well as massive bleeding and an increase in intracranial pressure, all of which cause the animal to lose consciousness. Occasionally, an animal may regain consciousness after the initial concussion. This is especially likely if an animal moves its head at the instant the pistol is discharged. Worse still, the operator may inflict a serious wound, without hitting the brain at all, and be faced with a completely conscious animal in agony.

In a successful stun, although brain matter may have been destroyed, the brain stem is often left intact, which explains why the heart will continue to beat. Although this may be desirable in a slaughterhouse context, in the case of dogs, it necessitates the need for a supplementary agent, such as lethal injection with barbiturates, to ensure swift euthansia.

According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation,  

“Captive-bolt pistols are an acceptable alternative to firearms where animals are sufficiently restrained, provided that the team understands that animals may be stunned rather than killed. They must be competent to know when an animal is only stunned and trained and equipped to kill such an animal immediately after stunning”(2).

This view is echoed by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) guidelines on euthanasia (June 2007), which state that “death may not occur if equipment is not maintained and used properly” (3).

In a letter addressed to me by the Chief Veterinary Officer of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA), dated 12th January 2009, Mr S.E. Chetham writes: “we would have serious concerns over the use of the captive bolt only by lay persons because the captive bolt, in itself, does not guarantee death, merely stunning is a possibility. Secondly all our operatives who have captive bolts have pentobarbitone sodium at their disposal. I hope this clarifies our position”. 

From the above, we can conclude that the use of the captive bolt pistol on its own is not an acceptable means of euthanasia in dogs. The use of a supplementary agent to ensure euthanasia, such as lethal injection with a controlled substance, is permissible only to highly trained and registered personnel. A lay person using a captive bolt pistol to kill dogs would need to ensure death either by pithing or by exsanguination, both of which raise further animal welfare concerns, assuming they were performed at all.

Therefore, in the interests of animal welfare, the use of the captive bolt pistol in dogs by lay persons should no longer be allowed in the UK.  

Andre Menache BSc(Hons) BVSc MRCVS

London, 17 June 2009.


Bali: The Government of Bali Realise That Vaccination of Dogs, NOT Poisoning, is the Only Humane, Effective Way to PREVENT Rabies




In early 2010, Made Sudini, a grandmother from Gianyar in Bali, Indonesia, was heading to work when she saw a government team arrive in her village and begin to poison dogs on the streets.

Made was traumatized by what she saw, but was relieved that at least her four dogs were safe at home. She watched as dogs injected by poisoned darts yelped in pain and tried to run for cover. As they ran, their leg muscles froze and their paces slowed until they fell over, writhing in agony before eventually suffocating to death.

What Made didn’t know at the time was that one of her dogs – a puppy called Johnny – had somehow managed to slip out of the house. Made arrived home to find Johnny’s limp body, still warm, lying in the front of her house. Made’s neighbor later told her how Jenny, one of Made’s other dogs, had flung herself at the garden gate, barking and turning in circles as she watched Johnny die. Jenny was his mother.

More than 100,000 dogs like Johnny have already lost their lives on Bali, poisoned with strychnine in a misguided and inhumane attempt to stop the spread of rabies.
WSPA is determined that no more dogs will be horrifically poisoned, but we need your help.

Earlier this year, WSPA stepped in to convince the government of Bali that vaccination is the only humane, effective way to prevent rabies. Through a trial project in one region of Bali, we successfully vaccinated 40,000 dogs and reduced the spread of rabies in the region.

Now, the Balinese government has agreed to stop killing dogs and work with WSPA and our local partner, the Bali Animal Welfare Association (BAWA) to implement an island-wide vaccination programthis means we need to vaccinate 350,000 dogs against rabies (approximately three quarters of all dogs in Bali) within the next six months. 

This is a big task, but failure is not an option. If we fail to vaccinate these dogs the Balinese government could revert to poisoning and more dogs like Johnny will die painful, prolonged deaths.

Silia Smith
Interim Executive Director