Recently, PETA sent out a message to a group of its constituents in reaction to an editorial our CEO Robin Robertson Starr wrote that was published in the Richmond Times-Dispatch on Sunday. That editorial described the great lifesaving success for our community that has been achieved since this organization made the decision to become no-kill about a dozen years ago. The focus was on how many services we are providing to the pets and people of this community and how many fewer dogs and cats are dying here since 2001. It also mentioned several unarguable truths: that PETA opposes the no-kill philosophy, that PETA does not trust many people to be responsible and compassionate guardians of pets and that PETA’s euthanasia rate at its Norfolk shelter was 89% in 2012. I feel confident when I say that PETA could not argue with any of these statements. But, they were apparently very upset that Robin stated these truths publicly.
So, PETA sent a message to some of its constituents urging them to write letters to the editor attacking Robin and her family in a highly personal and cruel way. It would appear that PETA does not understand that our chief executive reports to an independent voting Board of Directors that sets our policies and strategies in support of our mission; PETA has no such thing. Their message also urged their supporters to attack us because they claim that they “caught [the Richmond SPCA] on tape refusing to accept animals because they were full” which is untrue. The misleadingly edited video shows our staff member answering a hypothetical question and does not provide her complete answer.
The actions of PETA are pathetic. While our organizations have an honest disagreement about philosophy and the best way to operate shelters and save animals’ lives, we would never attack their leadership personally and cruelly nor would we ever say something about their organization that was factually untrue. PETA’s resorting to these tactics reveals the desperation that it is now feeling as the public becomes increasingly aware of its enormous rate of killing at its Norfolk shelter. It is worth noting that their message to their constituents urging the letter writing campaign says absolutely nothing to refute anything Robin wrote in the editorial.
In response to their message to their supporters, we sent a message to Daphna Nachminovitch, senior vice president of PETA's Cruelty Investigations Department and frequent spokesperson, to which she never gave us the courtesy of a response. In the message to her we asked that PETA have the professionalism to engage in our philosophical debate with civility. We also stated that ad hominem attacks such as the ones they were promoting have no place in a debate between responsible organizations.
Ms. Nachminovitch’s failure to reply suggests that PETA will continue to use unethical tactics to promote its own agenda. That’s okay because while PETA is busy doing that, the Richmond SPCA will be busy saving animals’ lives.
Tamsen Kingry is the chief operating officer of the Richmond SPCA. To read the biographies of our regular bloggers, please click here. Before posting a comment, please review our comment guidelines. Please note that our comment policy requires a first and last name to be used as your screen name.