I, along with many other deeply committed Virginia animal welfare professionals, worked very hard to persuade the General Assembly to pass Senate Bill 1381, patronned by Senator Bill Stanley, and we were thrilled when it did pass by a large margin. Recently, Governor McAuliffe signed that bill into law, thereby ensuring that private animal shelters in Virginia will have to be “operated for the purpose of finding permanent adoptive homes.” This is a standard that I believe almost all private shelters in Virginia meet and that the public expects all of them to meet. However, the outlier is the facility in Norfolk operated by the ironically named People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). That facility is licensed in Virginia as a private shelter but has for many years killed about 90% of the unfortunate dogs and cats that enter it. Recently, PETA workers also stole Maya, a young healthy Chihuahua, from the porch of her own home after many efforts to lure her off the porch had failed (all this is captured on video the veracity of which has never been challenged by PETA). They killed her that very day along with several other apparently young and healthy dogs and cats they took from the same housing area.
Despite the fact that PETA spent a great deal of time, money and effort fighting Senate Bill 1381 tooth and nail, the votes were not even close: 95 to 2 in the House and 35 to 1 in the Senate. PETA continued, after the bill’s passage in the General Assembly, to try to get the Governor to veto the bill but failed at that effort as well. Considering their vast financial resources and extensive connections in this state, it is quite a statement that they lost their efforts by such enormous margins.
So, now it gets interesting. PETA, which saw the bill as a big enough threat that they fought it desperately, now is saying that it makes no difference as a law. They and many of their advocates are arrogantly claiming that they will do nothing differently. The new PETA party line is that they have always tried to get animals adopted but, as they are quoted in the Huffington Post, “PETA will also continue to serve those most in need in our community—the old, sick, and injured animals, who comprise most of those PETA takes in when no one else will.” Note the telling use of the word “also” which makes clear that they see old, sick and injured animals as not being among those that they will get adopted. It would appear that what PETA believes that these groups of animals “in need” are actually in need of is death.
I find this appalling. One of the richest animal organizations in the world is saying that old, sick and injured animals cannot be adopted and must be killed. That certainly is not our philosophy here at the Richmond SPCA and is not a philosophy that is acceptable today given the enormous progress that we have made in saving homeless animals from death.
The PETA statement that no one else takes in old, sick and injured animals is simply a lie. The Richmond SPCA accepts into our care many senior pets and we see age as no impediment to their being adopted. We also take in thousands of sick and injured animals annually and provide veterinary treatment and rehabilitation to every one of them whose condition is treatable (which is almost all). If PETA’s statement is suggesting that they do not and will not provide such veterinary care and rehabilitation, then they need to make that position clear to the public and own it. They need to explain publicly why an organization operating on annual budget in excess of $35 million is not willing to treat and rehabilitate the sick and injured animals in its care but rather has killed and intends to continue to kill all of them.
When PETA spokespersons are asked by reporters and others to clarify what are their health and behavioral standards for determining that an animal should be killed and who exactly is making that determination, they never will give an answer. If, as it would appear, they are killing all of the elderly, sick and injured animals that come into their care and spending none of their many millions of dollars in assets to treat those that are treatable and save their lives, there is just one word for that. Reprehensible.
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.