PETA’s hometown newspaper came out with two pieces last week in an effort to protect and defend that organization. The Virginian Pilot ran a so-called news piece that allowed PETA, after months of radio silence about their theft and killing of a family’s beloved dog, Maya, to proclaim how contrite and sad they are about the whole thing and how they fired an employee as a scapegoat. The article portrayed PETA as being “devastated” (well, actually “pretty devastated”) and did not afford anyone who might have a differing perspective, who might think that PETA is crying crocodile tears, to have a single word.
Even more amazing was the made-to-order editorial that appeared in the paper on the same day. It said that Senate Bill 1381, which I worked very hard to urge legislators to pass, was intended to do something about PETA’s massive rate of killing dogs and cats at its facility in Norfolk but that it may have done nothing – this is the new PETA party line since they failed in their fight against the bill’s passage – because it does not say anything about euthanasia. The editors of the paper’s editorial page are either unaware of Virginia animal laws or intend to mislead their readers because, while the bill does not contain the word “euthanasia,” it most definitely affects PETA’s continued ability to euthanize. In Virginia, private animal shelters are permitted to have people who are not licensed veterinarians take the lives of the animals in their care, assuming the animal has passed any applicable hold period, using controlled drugs so long as the non-vet was trained by a licensed vet.
As we all know, PETA sends personnel out far and wide (witness the forays to Accomack) to scoop up dogs and cats that are stray or, as was the case with Maya, owned pets and end their lives. They also have non-veterinarians killing dogs and cats by the thousands at their Norfolk facility. If PETA were to no longer meet the now revised definition of “private animal shelter” because they make no meaningful effort to adopt pets to homes, then they would not be able to rely on non-veterinarians to do this killing for them. So, for the paper to say that the bill does nothing to about euthanasia is simply untrue.
Worse is the endorsement the editorial provides of PETA’s conduct. The editorial says that PETA takes in sick and injured animals that no-kill organizations turn away and provides services that have been abandoned by no-kill organizations. Then, it proceeds to list services, every one of which the no-kill Richmond SPCA provides. We provide spaying and neutering services, we provide free and low cost veterinary care, we take in thousands of sick and injured animals annually. In fact, here is the most important point that they are missing: we take in many more animals annually than does PETA, more than half of them are sick or injured when we receive them and WE SAVE THEIR LIVES. We provide veterinary care and rehabilitation for every single treatably sick and injured pet that we take in. And, from my long experience in animal sheltering, I can tell you that the vast majority of sick and injured animals you take in can be treated and restored to reasonable health – they do not need to be killed.
PETA with its massive budget, many times that of our organization, kills nearly all of the animals they take in. Our euthanasia rate last year was less than 1% with an intake of about 3,700 while PETA killed nearly 90% of about 2,600 dogs and cats. It is true that we do not take in feral cats, and no ethical shelter should, but we provide them with free spaying and neutering and rabies vaccinations so that they may be returned to the location where they were trapped by volunteers to live out their lives.
PETA’s apologists need to stop pretending that what PETA does is necessary – it is not necessary, and it is not ethical. In fact, no other community in this state has animals dying in the numbers that die at PETA’s hands in Norfolk. The average euthanasia rate of dogs and cats for private animal shelters statewide is 13 percent (for the 2013 calendar year, as not all 2014 reports are publicly available). If PETA wants to be in the sheltering business, then it needs to do so ethically by using its vast resources to save the lives of every treatably sick and injured animal in its care. No newspaper editor is ever going to be able to responsibly make the case that an organization as massive and rich as PETA is doing the right thing by killing animals that it could well afford to save. And they need to stop broadcasting the untrue information that no-kill shelters like the Richmond SPCA are not taking in sick and injured animals. We take in thousands of them year after year. And we put the money, love and care into rehabilitating them and finding them adoptive homes. Maybe the editors of the Virginian-Pilot should explain why PETA does not do the same.
Robin Robertson Starr is the chief executive officer of the Richmond SPCA. To read her biography or that of our other bloggers, please click here. Before posting a comment, please review our comment guidelines. Please note that our comment policy requires both your first and last name to be used as your screen name.