Delainey Root, MVC writer

Most people love animals and want them to be safe and healthy. One way that people try to help out animals of the world is by supporting animal rights activism groups. An animal rights activism group is a group of people with the goal of reducing animal abuse and mistreatment. 

The biggest animal rights activism group is PETA: People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. PETA has over 9 million supporters and members around the globe according to 

PETA’s website states, “PETA opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview, and focuses its attention on the four areas in which the population the largest numbers of animals suffer the most intensely for the longest periods in time: in laboratories, in the food industry, in the clothing trade, and in the entertainment industry. We also work on a variety of other issues, including the cruel killing of rodents, birds, and other animals that are often considered ‘pests’ as well as cruelty to domesticated animals.” 

However, PETA is known for having extreme ideas of what is animal cruelty and using extreme fear and shock tactics to advertise. In 2003, they handed out graphic comics called “Your Mommy Kills Animals” to any children accompanying women wearing fur to outdoor performances of theatrical shows. The graphic nature of the comic, along with it being handed to children, was widely viewed as an insensitive approach to the topic.

PETA donated $45,200 to convicted arsonist Rodney Coronado. They also loaned $25,000 to Coronado’s father to help pay for the legal fees to show their support.

 PETA also has attempted, on multiple occasions, to compare the treatment of people of color prior to the Civil Rights Movement to the treatment of livestock. I find this completely unacceptable and insensitive to the struggles of all African Americans who had to go through slavery and segregation through their entire lives. 

PETA encourages its followers’ bad behaviors. Former PETA vegetarian campaign coordinator, Bruce Friedrich, told an animal rights convention attendants that “blowing up stuff” and “smashing windows” was “a great way to bring about animal liberation.” 

It is believed that through some of PETA’s tactics, they are actually harming many animals instead of saving them from abuse. PETA believes that pet ownership is a form of animal abuse. PETA president, Ingrid Newkirk, said in a 2014 with the Washington Post interview that any outdoor cats that are not pets should be killed. Her reasoning was that the cats could get hit by a car or get an illness in the future. She has made similar statements about elephants. She said elephants would be better off dead than living in zoos where they are at least supplied with what they need to survive. 

A group that supposedly supports the lives of animals should not support the killing of animals so quickly, as it forgoes actually attempting to better the conditions certain domesticated animals live in. It also makes it impossible to have a “correct” solution; if it is bad for the cat to be a pet, then why should cats on the street, without owners, be killed?

PETA owns and operates an animal shelter in Norfolk, Virginia with the goal of keeping animals off the streets and taking them to the shelter where they can be cared for until they find a new home. However, it was discovered that this facility did not have sufficient housing for the number of animals they reported to have come in. This was uncovered in 2010 when Dr. Daniel Kovich, an investigator with the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS), investigated PETA’s animal shelter. 

 Kovich reviewed two months of PETA’s records. It was found that 245 of the 290 animals that PETA took into their shelter were killed within 24 hours of being at the facility. As research continued, it was discovered that something similar was being done to other animals. They accepted 1,211 cats into the shelters and 1,198 of those cats were euthanized. PETA only found homes for five of those cats.

As for other companion animals, such as rabbits, 54 out of the 58 were euthanized. It was found that PETA’s adoption/transfer rate was only 0.7 percent in 2009. This would mean that PETA’s shelter was killing 99.3 percent of the animals that came into their shelters.  

PETA responded by saying that they only killed animals that were sick or injured to the point of no possible recovery. This was disputed in 2014 when WAVY-TV had surveillance of a PETA van pulling up to a family’s driveway and someone jumping out and taking the family’s Chihuahua with seemingly no reason. The dog’s owner later reported that the employee came back later with a fruit basket to tell the family that the dog had been killed. The employees were later charged with larceny. PETA continuously refused to respond. 

In 2007, two employees were tried for animal cruelty and littering after they were found dumping the bodies of dead cats and dogs into a dumpster late at night. Pictures of the animals presented at the trial showed very classically cute dogs and cats that were in court were called “adorable” and “perfect.” Witnesses at the trial claimed that PETA told them that they could easily find homes for the animals left in their custody. North Carolina shelter personnel also reported that they falsely believed that PETA would find homes for the animals the shelter gave to them. Instead, the animals were killed before they even made it out of North Carolina. 

PETA is constantly overstepping boundaries, disrespecting others’ cultures and ending the lives of the animals they claim to care greatly about. The group should not be supported, has done little to actually help animals, and has only hurt animal activism and efforts by those who truly wish to give animals better lives.