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In the news a couple of days ago were two PETA supporters dressed in lettuce bikinis who had gone to Toronto mayor Rob Ford's weigh-in (he's on a diet and he's invited the public to his weekly step up onto the scale). The two women were cheary, polite and had a gift basket for the mayor to help with his diet and in return the mayor responded with not a glance and a rude "No," and moments later stomped away without any other acknowledgement.

Anyway, after watching that video, and being reminded of PETA, I thought I'd go check out how they did last year at their animal shelter in Norfolk, Virginia. After all, I hadn't stuck any forks or razor blades into my eyes lately and I figured I was getting out of practice.

The quickest way to check kill numbers at PETA's shelter is to go to the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services site and if you do a search for PETA and 2011, this is what you'll see:

(If you want to see how well PETA did in other years, you just need to change the year entry in the URL to the year you want to see. Don't look at too many years and the thousands of listed dead animals, though, lest you risk becoming cynical).

So let's see. In 2011, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals at their 501 Front Street processing plant took in about 1214 cats. 2 of those cats were returned. 5 were adopted. 8 transferred. 1198 were killed. 1 was still there at the end of the year (the staff ran out of pentobarbital?). As for dogs, they took in 778. 9 were reclaimed by their owners. 19 were adopted. 26 were transferred. 713 were killed. In total, PETA took in 2050 animals in 2011 and killed 1965 of them.

That's a 95.9% kill rate.

Now before all you old school animal welfarists, who still believe saving animals means actually saving animals, get all uppity, here's what the PETA hivemind had to say about the numbers:

At one point several years ago, the state considered changing PETA's status from a shelter to a euthanasia clinic, says Elaine Lidholm, the agency's communications director.

Oops, sorry. Wrong quote.

In a December 2, 2008, interview with George Stroumboulopoulos of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Stroumboulopoulos asks Newkirk: "Do you euthanize those pets, the adoptable ones, if you get them?" To which Newkirk responds: "If we get them, if we cannot find a home, absolutely."

Oops, sorry. Another wrong quote. Oh, and by the way, PETA usually likes to kill their animals within 24 hours of taking them in. It's understandable how under those time constraints, adoptions can be a challenge.

Okay, here's a proper quote from PETA:

When an aggressive, unsocialized dog has been left starving at the end of a chain, with a collar grown into his neck, his body racked with mange, PETA will accept him and put him down so that he does not die slowly out there.

Yes, because the last thing you would want to try and do when you own a $30 million charity is remove the collar, cure the mange and socialize the dog. Obviously, the first thing you would want to do is just kill the darn thing because that usually solves the problem pronto. Grab the sucker by its collar, drag it into the van, stick the needle in, wipe off yer hands and yer done. Of course then you have to find some place to dump that meat ...

I know the doublespeak can be confusing when protecting animals actually means killing animals so here's a suggestion: just add the words "and then kill it" or variant thereof to the end of every statement from PETA concerning the companion animals they get their hands on and things should be a lot clearer.

For example, here's an original PETA quote:

As Virginia officials speaking of PETA's euthanasia rate acknowledged to USA Today, "PETA will basically take anything that comes through the door ..."

Here is the same statement amended:

As Virginia officials speaking of PETA's euthanasia rate acknowledged to USA Today, "PETA will basically take anything that comes through the door ..." ... and then kill it.

Ah, much better.

Or this one:

As for the "no-kill" shelters, their figures are great because they slam the door on the worst cases, referring them, in fact, to PETA. ... and then we kill them.

Makes sense now?

One of PETA's many excuses for killing so many animals is that they've got an open admissions policy. Toronto Animal Services has an open admissions policy and the last I checked, TAS has a dog kill rate of under 10% if you take away owner requested euthanasias, court ordered terminations and euthanasias due to poor health (cat number are worse but I don't know by how much). I believe the Toronto Humane Society also has an open admissions policy - though it may not be official(?). Even the OSPCA, which apparently doesn't do so well, has a kill rate of "only" 70% (can anyone confirm this?). Imagine the uproar if tomorrow any of those agencies came out and said they had a kill rate of 95%. No one from the public would ever be defending a 95% kill rate. People would be lining up to burn up their facilities. And yet, PETA and its supporters continue to come up with excuses for why it's okay to kill so many animals at their own shelter: They're unhealthy. They've got behaviour problems. No one wants them.

Those are exactly the same excuses every high kill shelter uses to justify their own killing. Both the practices and excuses used by PETA and high kill shelters when it comes to killing homeless pets are so similar in fact, I'm surprised the high kill shelters don't just operate under the PETA banner. That way, instead of reforming their shelter practices, they could just hide behind the holier-than-thou platitudes of PETA and continue the slaughter. They're unhealthy. They've got behaviour problems. No one wants them. So we kill them.

Now you all are probably thinking I have a huge hate-on for PETA but that's not true. I don't hate all aspects of PETA. I think it's great they're promoting the benefits of being a vegetarian or a vegan and they're helping to shine a light on factory farming and they want to stop the slaughter of wildlife for fur and all that other pro-animal stuff they do. And I don't care that they use borderline tasteless campaigns to spread their message (Lady Gaga wears a meat dress and she's the most popular thing in the world) although I'm not sure if some of their publicity stunts are helping or hindering them. What does irk me greatly is it seems pretty obvious to me that at the core of the PETA's anti-human, pro-animal message is a twisted belief that killing is the easy answer to suffering and whenever they are able, they have no problem giving animals the gift of death regardless of the animal's condition.

From Best Friends Animal Society:

PETA runs some very effective campaigns and we support much of what they have done to help bring an end to some of the worst abuses of animals in laboratories, factory farms, at sporting events, and fur farms.

But in the area of companion animals, we have some fundamental disagreements.

At a press conference following the arrest of those two employees, PETA president Ingrid Newkirk said, that PETA believes euthanasia is the kindest gift to a dog or cat unwanted and unloved. We simply couldn't disagree more. The kindest gift to a homeless animal is a good home. The kindest gift to an unloved dog or cat is a loving, caring place to go.

Or this one from just last week where PETA complains that TNR (trap, neuter, release) of homeless cats is cruel:

In a letter to the mayor of Albuquerque, PETA asserted that city employees are guilty of illegally abandoning animals. This is on the heels of Best Friends partnering with the city of Albuquerque in an exciting new community cat project that will save thousands of cats’ lives.

PETA is concerned that the city’s practice of neutering community cats and handing them over to rescue groups to be returned to the area where they were trapped poses an unacceptable risk to the cats’ well-being.

What do you think PETA's solution would be?

They also seem to have a special place in their twisted hearts for Pit Bulls (Bryant and Newkirk sitting in a tree. K-I-S-S-I-N-G). They often recommend the immediate extermination of any Pit Bulls in a shelter to "protect" them from potentially evil human owners. If they had their way all the Vick dogs would be dead instead of the majority of them being rehabbed and in good homes.

Watch The Dogs Are Alright on PBS. See more from Need To Know.

Here's an example from KC Dog Blog about PETA opposing a shelter's decision to adopt out Pit Bulls.

The Livingston County (MI) Animal Shelter is considering changing a policy that would give 'pit bulls' that enter into the shelter a chance to be rehomed (just like dogs of all other breeds that enter the shelter). People who in favor of the changes note that the vast majority of pit bulls are not violent and that temperment testing would weed out aggressive dogs of all breeds -- and if a dog is not aggressive, it should have the opportunity to be rehomed.

In their infinite wisdom, PETA has decided to speak out against a policy change.

But why bother with second hand accounts when you can go to the horse's mouth for material? In PETA Comes to Pit Bulls' Aid from PETA's official blog, the writer waxes on about what a great job they did getting an owner to surrender his neglected Pit Bull and then they killed it. They claimed that the dog was too far gone and if that claim came from a shelter which didn't have a 95% plus kill rate, maybe I'd believe them. In this case, not so much. Notice, however, that none of their supporters dare question the legitimacy of the kill in the comments section below the post.

And I could go on. It's endless.

If you want more punishment, try these links:

A lovely postcard from Ingrid Newkirk, head of PETA, to Nathan Winograd.

6 Comments to “PETA's Big Year”

  1. Fred says:

    There are unfortunately many kill shelters in Ontario - probably most of them actually - some are better, some are worse. A lot of the higher kill shelters don't always publish their numbers openly but can sometimes be accessed through freedom of information channels. Sorry I don't have any specifics.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Wonderful post

  3. GoLightly says:

    I agree entirely with this. But I will say, OSPCA is horrible. They kill animals for ringworm, and if it isn't ringworm, kill 'em anyway! We need a new big-screen TV, and some renovations!
    OSPCA does NOT publish euth stats. I've asked. They don't want the public to know the truth behind most, if not all "animal shelters".
    They are places where animals are put to death. Keeps the cages empty, and the costs low.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Sadly TAS does have a kill record too. But better a meal, a temporary shelter and a kind death than a life of rejection and misery

  5. NK says:

    Reading these articles about PETA is, as you say, enough to drive you to drink! If only there were more shelters like Best Friends - but we all know that the bottom line is money and lack thereof. Hopes for a time of 'no more homeless pets' is unrealistic because there is no way on earth that all of mankind can be 'trained' to respect animals and treat them humanely - there will always, sadly, be that faction in this world that will remain truly untrainable. Deep sigh. So extra kudos to TAS and all the shelters that do strive mightily against so many insurmountable obstacles.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Remember Dr. Stanley Coren? Check out his April 15 article "When the Ethical Treatment of Animals Goes Wrong", on the Psychology Today website.

    He wasn't aware of what PETA's been doing, but after reading info on their site he has com to the same conclusion as I have. I don't think people know what they're supporting if they donate time or money to PETA.

    This site by former PETA members want Newkirk to step down. They support Nathan Winograd's no-kill movement, NoKillNow (dot) com

    For those who think there aren't enough homes or there's nothing we can do, you really need some new information. Read "Redemption" by Nathan Winograd and check out the No Kill Advocacy Center website. The independent No-Kill Communities blog is tracking the growing number of no-kill communities, see no-killnews (dot) com

    Christie Keith's article "Is pet overpopulation a myth? Inside Nathan Winograd's "Redemption" on the newspaper site sfgate (dot) com
    is a really good introduction, even after all these years.

    To paraphrase some points:

    If animals shelters get full, it's not due to pet overpopulation, but due to the lack of programs in the community to help keep animals in their homes, to find and recover lost animals and return them to their worried families. If they kill feral cats, it's because the shelter is accepting feral cats instead of referring them to a TNR program. If a shelter kills bottle babies, it's because they aren't working with rescue groups or they don't encourage a good volunteer network. If a shelter kills and blames the public for their killing, it's a failure of it's leadership to help put the necessary life-saving programs and services in place that have proven to create real no-kill communities.

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A request

The reason for this blog is to help get specific dogs adopted from TAS but equally important is to try to normalize the idea of shelter dogs being just as good and just as desirable as any other dogs including those which are regularly merchandised by backyard breeders, puppy millers and those few remaining pet store owners who still feel a need to sell live animals. The single greatest stigma shelter animals still face is the belief that shelter animals are substandard animals. Anyone who has had enough experience with shelter animals knows this is untrue but the general public hasn't had the same experiences you've had. They see a nice dog photo in a glossy magazine and too many of them would never think of associating that dog with a dog from a shelter. After all, no one abandons perfectly good dogs, right? Unfortunately, as we all know, perfectly good dogs are abandoned all the time.

The public still too often associates shelter dogs with images of beat up, sick, dirty, severely traumatized animals and while we definitely sometimes see victims such as these, they are certainly not the majority and, regardless, even the most abused animals can very often be saved and made whole again.

Pound Dogs sometimes discusses the sad histories some of the dogs have suffered. For the most part, though, it tries to present the dogs not as victims but as great potential family members. The goal is to raise the profiles of animals in adoption centers so that a potential pet owner sees them as the best choice, not just as the charity choice.

So, here's the favour I'm asking. Whenever you see a dog picture on these pages you think is decent enough, I'd like you to consider sharing it on Facebook or any other social media sites you're using (I know many of you do this already and thank you for that). And when you share it, please mention that the dog in the photo is a shelter dog like so many other shelter dogs waiting for a home. If we can get even five percent of the pet buying public to see shelter dogs differently, to see how beautiful they are and how wonderful they are, and to consider shelter dogs as their first choice for a new family member, we can end the suffering of homeless pets in this country.