People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has provided decades of hands-on work to care for animals. Yet some people have been influenced by misleading claims about PETA’s mission and practices.
PETA helps animals in some of the poorest areas in southeastern Virginia and northeastern North Carolina. Our free spay-and-neuter surgeries, veterinary care, behavioral counseling and other services have helped thousands of people keep animals they would otherwise have had to part with in communities that have no humane societies, adoption programs or affordable veterinary services.
Our doors are always open to animals in need, no matter how old, sick, injured or aggressive they are. Some of the animals we receive are adoptable, and we transfer them to high-traffic open-admission shelters—shelters that, unlike “no-kill” shelters, never turn animals away. We’ve also found loving homes for many lucky animals ourselves.
After weeks of searching, we recently located the perfect home for Maxine, an inquisitive girl who had been found wandering down a rural road in North Carolina, apparently after being abandoned by a hunter who no longer wanted her. Maxine now spends her days cuddling with her “brother” dog named Sam, keeping her guardian company while she works and romping in the beautiful dog park that is right across the street from her new home.
We wish that every dog and cat could have a happy ending like Maxine’s, but as we’ve shared on our PETA blog and website many times, many of the animals PETA takes in are badly broken in both body and spirit. We take in animals who are feral, suffering, dying and otherwise unadoptable—including dogs who have been chained 24/7 for their entire lives and are suffering from congestive heart failure or advanced heartworm disease and feral cats who have been ravaged by feline immunodeficiency virus, feline leukemia or other contagious and fatal diseases. For these animals, euthanasia is often the only kindness that they have ever known.
Angel is one of those animals. Our fieldworkers found her last Thanksgiving while delivering straw to dogs left chained outdoors in rural Virginia. Angel was emaciated, heavily pregnant and so weak that she couldn’t even stand. We rushed her to a veterinarian, who diagnosed her with advanced starvation, anemia and a severe parasite infestation. She had the lowest body temperature that the veterinarian had ever seen. PETA filed charges against her owners, and a judge banned them both from ever owning animals again.
We’re also there for dying animals such as Jack, who was wasting away and unable to stand because of his advanced age and a host of medical conditions. Jack’s guardians were in denial about his suffering and hoping for a miraculous recovery. After we gently counseled them for several days, they made the kind decision to end his suffering and brought him to PETA so that we could give him a peaceful release from his pain, surrounded by his family.
“No-kill” shelters may sound nice, but many of them often refuse to accept the animals who are most in need of help. Turning away the desperate cases makes their euthanasia statistics seem low and appealing, but animals who are denied shelter often meet cruel fates, including cold, lonely deaths on the streets or on a chain.
The solution to animal homelessness (and the resulting need for euthanasia) lies in prevention, and that’s where PETA places our focus. Last year alone, wespayed or neutered 11,229 dogs and cats, preventing generations of animals from ending up on the streets or in shelters. We celebrated sterilizing our 100,000th animal since 2001 with a 24-hour spay-a-thon, during which we “fixed” 400 more dogs and cats for people who otherwise couldn’t afford these lifesaving surgeries.
I invite every caring person to join us by speaking up if you witness cruelty or neglect, helping your friends and neighbors sterilize their animals and working to get spay-and-neuter legislation passed in your community. Together, we can create a kinder world for all animals.
Daphna Nachminovitch is senior vice president of the Cruelty Investigations Department for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA); 501 Front St., Norfolk, VA 23510; www.PETA.org.