The Truth about PETA & those horrible Photos.

Via Waylon Lewis
on Apr 7, 2013
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Update: a rebuttal, to my post below, by myself: “We can be a no kill nation: here’s how.”

Update: a rebuttal via Kate: “The Truth about PETA & those Horrible Photos? The Truth is Pretty Ugly.

In Defense of PETA.

As founder of elephant, I’ve worked with PETA—not directly, I have no ties to them—over the years, and I’m convinced of the simple truth that they care about animals, and are well-informed on the issues and questions of animal care. peta sexy man fur nfl football

And for years, a libertarian friend of mine has posted blogs about how PETA kills kabillions of animals on my Facebook Wall. So, a few years back, I asked PETA about it, via twitter.

In response, they sent me this.

As you can see above, they have long had a clear and public euthanization policy. And it’s certainly not secret.

So when photos and blogs started going around recently—I can’t even link to the Breitbart “article” in good conscience—it’s a far right traffic-baiting hype-hate machine, the furthest thing from fair, original journalism—I smelled a rat.peta chicks

Here’s the rather hyped-up Huffington Post article…which links to the author’s blogs by way of sourcing its info. Warning: death.

And then, after getting a few “how could PETA do this!?” kind of emails from a yoga teacher colleague of mine—an intelligent, educated, savvy woman—I realized that somehow these lazy, shoddy, biased accusations had gone viral.

So I looked into it, all over again.

First of all: again, I don’t really care about PETA, one way or the other. I do care about animals. I do care about truth. And I have both defended and criticized PETA on this site many times, over the years.

So: the accusation is that PETA is “secretly” killing 10s of 1000s of animals—sweet, innocent dogs and cats.

breedism peta tee shirtvegetarian paul mccartney peta

Here’s one succinct response:

PETA provides a valuable, free, last-resort, humane euthanasia service. Due to human irresponsibility and ignorance there is a vast surplus of cats and dogs and far too few loving homes for them.

“No-Kill” shelters are not truly no kill. “They have no choice but to refuse most animals, as documented in this PETA video.”

Let’s do some math.

1. The truth is, of course, that the problem starts with us. You and I. When/if we choose not to adopt, we give up the chance to save a life.

2. Breeders and puppy mills and pet stores “manufacture” sentient lives for profit. Again and again, organizations such as PETA and the Humane Society have exposed intolerable, inhumane conditions. Even the best puppy mills are producing more lives in a society that…

3. …already has far more animals in need of rescue than citizens who choose to rescue (it’s called rescue for a reason).

So there’s the “math.” The result of the above equation is that, year after year, there are 10s of 1000s of animals who are euthanized—killed—because there’s not enough folks who care to adopt them. Reminder: whatever breed you want, you can adopt it. peta naked
These tend to be animals that are old, sick but treatable, troubled but workable, not cute in some conventional sense…all sweet, loving animals deserving of a life and who could make your life, you dear reader, a sweeter, fuller, more joyful one.

So “no-kill” shelters kill by refusing to adopt these animals, or passing along animals that aren’t adopts to will kill shelters.

And organizations like PETA, and kill shelters, do the “dirty work” of ending these lives when no one has chosen to adopt them. That’s it. PETA is not secretly some animal-hating organization.

PS: if you have additional info that either confirms or contradicts the above, please leave it in comments and if it checks out, I’ll add it in. I am only after the fair and constructive truth here.


For more, much more, read PETA’s response. Plus, videos. For more on no-kill shelters, click here.

For a reasonable discussion, click over to Reddit (which loves to hate PETA, generally). “PETA is not a shelter. They are an organization that has to unfortunately do the dirty work that peta vegetarianosno-kill shelters leave behind. PETA goes into the worst situations and has to “clean up”. It is impossible to help animals and not euthanize. We have created such bad overpopulation. If you don’t agree with PETA, fine. But do your home work. No kill is not the be all end all solution. It is great in theory, but not in practice. I would recommend people do their own research and decide for themselves. The other side to this argument is


Be a part of the solution: adopt. The life you save might just be your own:

rescue dog


About Waylon Lewis

Waylon Lewis, founder of elephant magazine, now & host of Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis, is a 1st generation American Buddhist “Dharma Brat." Voted #1 in U.S. on twitter for #green two years running, Changemaker & Eco Ambassador by Treehugger, Green Hero by Discovery’s Planet Green, Best (!) Shameless Self-Promoter at Westword's Web Awards, Prominent Buddhist by Shambhala Sun, & 100 Most Influential People in Health & Fitness 2011 by "Greatist", Waylon is a mediocre climber, lazy yogi, 365-day bicycle commuter & best friend to Redford (his rescue hound). His aim: to bring the good news re: "the mindful life" beyond the choir & to all those who didn't know they gave a care. | His first book, Things I would like to do with You, is now available.


77 Responses to “The Truth about PETA & those horrible Photos.”

  1. Angela says:

    Many people in dog and cat rescue are against PETA, fyi. I remember when I was working my dogs (mixed breeds, rescued from a kill shelter) at an obedience trial several years ago (an obedience trial for all mixed breeds and non AKC purebreds), PETA supporters came and started letting dogs out of their crates! This happens all the time. They are against ANY companion animal ownership/guardianship.

    While there are many pure bred dogs available at shelters and through pure bred dog rescues, there are many breeds not available…some people want to know it is a quality dog, has been health tested and temperament tested, has been worked in its field, etc. or, they want a pup to train themselves and not retrain a dog or deal with a dog with behavior issues. Thus…

    I do not agree with part of the article's claim "2. Breeders and puppy mills and pet stores “manufacture” sentient lives for profit.…"

    Please research and talk with GOOD, RESPONSIBLE breeders. It should read: backyard/irresponsible breeders. Responsible breeders are people who are dedicated to their breed. They are not in it for a profit and rarely make one.

  2. Angela says:

    They are against ALL companion animal ownership/guardianship…I learned this 20+ years ago from former supporters and from animal rescue veterans. Of course, they will not advertise this and lose supporters!

  3. knittinginnc says:

    It breaks my heart to say it, but after reading about Caboodle Ranch and other cases of rescue hording, I now support the euthanasia of animals in a compassionate way. The fact of the matter is that there are far far too many cats and dogs out there. I live in a fairly well-off, well-educated community that has the best public shelter I have ever seen, yet it still euthanizes 100s if not 1000s of animals every year and is still full to capacity. There are also a myriad of other shelters, which are also at capacity, and lots of people who foster. I do not know what the solution to this problem is, other than to compassionately euthanize.

    In the cases that I have read about rescue-hording, it is clear that the person at the heart of the "rescue" thinks s/he is doing far more good than what they are. They cannot bear to hear that animals will be put down, but meanwhile the animals they have suffer greatly. There are fates worse than death. One of those fates was to be a cat "rescued" by Caboodle Ranch.

    BTW, PETA played an instrumental role in documenting the neglect at Caboodle and getting it shut down. If you want to make yourself depressed you can read about it here and for the PETA bit you can go here…. Warning: PETA's page has lots of graphic photos and videos (its PETA).

  4. Sam Ellis says:

    Extremely helpful article, thanks very much. The statistical blizzard and claim v counter-claim elsewhere is antithetical to a clear understanding of the moral issues, and where the real responsibility lies. You laid out some logically indisputable premises and came to appropriate and un-hysterical conclusions. Based on the comments you read at PETAkillsanimals etc a lot of people are looking for a fall guy and someone to hate, and are not interested in solutions, let alone examining their own behaviour.

  5. Padma Kadag says:

    Waylon…tell us…do you support euthanasia?

  6. serenitywriter says:

    Penn & Teller covered this issue

  7. Chloe says:

    I find it ironic that PETA is supposed to be a helpful/animal lover group, yet every time I hear their name my first thought is anger and hate. To me it reminds me a bit of the article that was posted here on how meat eaters often resent vegans/vegetarians for attacking them and pushing their views. I am a vegetarian myself and find the less I bash eating meat, and rather promote the benefits, the more I see understanding. I think it would be wise for PETA to change their reputation from one that stalks/harasses fur-bearing celebrities to one that promotes animal rescue stories, and it may appeal to a broader range of people. I am all about saving animals, and I am positive they have done more good for the world than harm. However it does not totally surprise me that there are people trying to leak dirty rumors about a charity that has on several occasions purposefully rubbed people the wrong way.

    “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” -MLK

  8. Dan says:

    If you're interested in PETA's revenues and expenditures, have a look-see:

    I happen to know lots of PETA staffers personally, and they put their blood and sweat and tears into the work. The dollars stretch far.

  9. "So “no-kill” shelters kill by refusing to adopt these animals, or passing along animals that aren’t adopts to will kill shelters."

    This is some shockingly piss poor logic. This is like saying a battered women's shelter is more responsible for domestic violence than batterers because they lack the capacity to take in every victim of domestic violence. The people trying to prevent violence with finite resources aren't the ones responsible for violence – the ones committing violence are responsible. And in this case, that's PETA and other killers.

  10. Guest says:

    Here's a first-hand account of an employee's first day at PETA, posted on Facebook under the name Janna Harris-Cadenas:

    "Ok, I guess I will put my two cents in. I am a former employee of PETA and still activist for them. I still get called to go out when animals are in urgent need… The high kill rate: PETA is a fairly small office building on the River in Norfolk Va, there is now a second office in Cali. PETA is an animal right organization, not a shelter. The high kill rate does honestly and truly come from low income families bringing their pets to us because we offer free euthanasia services. My very first day at PETA I was all dressed up, in my high heels ready to start my dream! Then I was told to put a polo shirt on over my nice shirt. I proceeded to go out in a van with another employee and deliver bedding, food, water, new collars, treats toys etc…. To the dogs in a local low income community. As we went around getting slobbered on by every pit bull in the vicinity we also offered the people free spay and neuter services for their dogs. We were met by people who truly truly loved their dogs and were for the most part very welling to do the surgeries! I will honestly say that while I am very well aware of the reality of pit bull fighting in these communities, I did not see a scratch on one single dog. These guys turned to mush when they touched their dogs!! At the end of the day we made one last stop at an elderly ladies house. Her 18 year old dog who was blind and deaf was no longer able to walk. She had called a vet but was not an established customer and didn't have the money so they turned her away. We let her say her goodbyes and brought her dog back to the office with us. I sat on the floor and held her in my arms while she was sent away in peace. And THAT is why PETA has a high kill rate."

  11. I mean, think about how fucking absurd this logic is:

    "A lot of people criticize People for the Ethical Treatment of Children for euthanizing kids. But really, the ones to blame are:

    – orphanages that turn away kids when they don't have bed space.
    – people who don't use adequate birth control.
    – the pro-life movement.

    We shouldn't blame PETC for having to do the dirty work created by these other people.

    Besides, the kids PETC kills are mostly teenagers and ones with illnesses and disabilities, and who wants them anyway? Also kids with behavioral issues. What else are you going to do with unadoptable kids?"

  12. tony martin says:

    If a battered women's shelter is full to capacity and has to tell women 'sorry, you have to make an appointment and we have a 3 month waiting list, if you are lucky at that time, we might take you in" well, yes, it is the very same thing as the No Kill centres.

  13. Nat says:

    From what I know about PETA, and I’ve seen Ingrid Newkirk say it herself in a documentary, the philosophy of the organization is that animals are not ours to own, eat, wear, or for entertainment. The reason they euthanize unwanted animals instead of trying to adopt them out is for that very reason. They believe that instead adopting the animal out to some other person who may treat them poorly, they are being compassionate in ending that animals life to help them avoid suffering.

  14. Maureen says:

    You don't see human rights groups "euthanizing" unwanted or homeless humans, do you? Of course not, because the right to life is the most basic right of all, and no group would ever take it away from people no matter how poor or hungry they were. So how can an animal "rights" group kill unwanted animals and still call itself an animal "rights" group? Apparently they consider animals disposable; not a good example to set for the rest of society. If even an animals rights group thinks animals lives don't matter, how can we expect progress from the rest of society in how it views animals? It's very speciesist, actually; so called animal "rights" people thinking it's OK to kill homeless animals, but not homeless people.

  15. Maureen says:

    I do not have an issue with euthanasia for terminally ill and suffering animals, but PETA has admitted to killing many adoptable animals, including puppies and kittens as well. A friend who interned with them a few years ago told me his biggst issue was the lack of transparency and the dishonesty he came across while working there; I have heard tthe story a few times from him about how he was presentwhen a man in tears surrendered his two friendly dogs and being promised by PETA staff they would find a good home, only to be killed that same day.

  16. Anna Van Z says:

    That is revolting. I also think their attitude about feral cats is completely wrong. I have rescued/rehabbed/re-homed feral cats for years, and I love them dearly. My concern about PETA and their so-called euthanasia is that it doesn't seem like they even try to employ alternatives. It doesn't sound like they treat the animals they encounter with much compassion.

  17. Anna Van Z says:

    I agree with everything you said. Thanks.

  18. Jupiter says:

    Death is compassion compared to this

  19. Jupiter says:

    They offer low/no cost euthanasia in a poor neighborhood where people cannot afford to go to the vet for this service and would otherwise watch their pet suffer to death (or take matters into their own hands).

  20. Jupiter says:

    Very nice comment Chloe 🙂 I think HSUS (Humane Society of the United States) and ASPCA both do that rather nicely, but that does not stop Rick Berman (see Center for Consumer Freedom) and Nathan Winograd (leader of a cult-like branch of no-kill that stirred up this shitstorm) from attacking them as well… we are not all going to agree with the best way to get the pet overpopulation problem under control, but if we can't work together it's never going to happen!

  21. oh please says:

    Suzy, to be clear, PeTa is very clear the adoptable animals you are describing are sent to high adoption shelters to be re-homed. The ones they are describing as so dire are ones riddled with inoperable cancer, mutilated beyond hope, etc. They are not taking 'divorce victims' when they say 'troubled'. I hope that's clear to you now and that you will make sure not to post things that intentionally confuse these two different circumstances.

  22. Brooke says:

    This is all very confusing on who to believe however I will peta sounds very fucked to say that animals shouldn’t be owned so what are we supposed to do with domesticated animals obviously peta doesn’t think we should turn them loose to be wild ( which I dont support either) but their opition is to euthanize them???? Their views on feral and pitbulls are ridiculous and though I don’t like euthanizing unless suffering on death bed I do understand shelters at times have no choice but damn!Give the animal a chance and IMO I think every measure should be taking before euthanizing is even thought of! As for adopting pets I fully agree every since my Puggy had to be put down at 15 because he was terminally ill to the point the vet said she didn’t know how he was even alive other than holding on for us to accept letting him go I feel he would be proud of me to know I have made the choice to rescue when I can the two dockers I own now where abandoned at a gas station before their eyes where even open and nothing is more rewarding to know that we saved them and their sisters and all are in good health and in good caring home two with my boyfriend and I and they are so awesome so I guess screw peta and I’ll just rescue who I can when I can and I’ll continue to encourage people to do the same rather than go to a breeder plus the bond you get with an animals you rescued vs one you just picked because it was the cutiest in the litter is great I never thought I would bond as much to a dog as my lil bro puggy but saving these guys and raising them has broight me to that point it is really worth it and I know he would be proud of me

  23. Midnight says:

    I’m all for helping animals and have a cat I bought from my neighbor after seeing Midnight roaming around at night as a kitten. However I don’t support peta or it’s tactics of attacking others. Ex: Throwing paint on a model’s fur coat which just gets replaced.

  24. turnip_the_beet says:

    There seems to be a lot of actual "Truth about PETA" missing from this article. It should be noted that even shelters that do perform euthanasia still give animals a two week time frame, on average, in which to be adopted. This is much preferable to the less than 24 hours that PETA allows for.

  25. Cheryl Janachione says:

    There are marketers that manufacture doubt. That is what they do for a living and do very well. Rich Berman, "Human Watch" and Nathan Winograd" "Peta Kills" are only 2 of them. Winograd is connected with Citizens for Consumer Freedom, which is a front for the meat industry and convenance labs (medical testing on animals is one of their biggest clients). Follow the money…love or hate them, the national animal rights organizations do a lot of good via changing the way people look at meat products, fur, medical testing and gave the world a real look into factory farming horrors. They work to change legislation on the local, state and federal levels that make animals lives better. They have made a huge difference and big corporations are very away of what they are doing and are fighting back. How do you think they will fight back? By trying to discredit the national animal rights organizations. Google Richard Bermans house and see what betraying animals buys you.

  26. Cheryl Janachione says:

    Yes, I was blocked to for saying that there is a lot of good things that Peta does and gave him the specifics on a case, one of those viral Peta stole an animal and killed it, situations. He really counts how many shares he gets, so discrediting Peta is more important than working on actually saving animals lives. Winograd is also connected to the Citizens for Consumer Freedom which is code for no regulations on anything. Convenance Labs, the horrible animal medical testing group is a big client of theirs along with big food corporations.

  27. Frogzrok13 says:

    Supporters of animal rights believe that animals have an inherent worth. “We believe that every creature with a will to live has a right to live free from pain and suffering.”
    PETA workers have promised to help find homes for animals rather than euthanize them.
    The group justifies its euthanasia policies towards pets by saying that “[PETA] only takes in animals that are deemed unable to be placed in homes…because the area shelters are overrun with animals”.
    — Alisa Mullins, PETA Correspondent.
    They say these animals include: feral cat colonies with diseases such as feline AIDS and leukemia, stray dogs, litters of parvo-infected puppies, and backyard dogs.
    Since 1998, a total of 38,464 pets have died at the hands of PETA workers. According to the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services “An inspection of over 300 PETA ‘animal custody’ records discovered that PETA kills 86% of the animals it takes in within only 24 hours.”
    "We just don't have the money" to care for them, then PETA-Chairman Alex Pacheco told the Washington Times. “The PETA animal shelter had run out of room."
    These statistics are shocking for a group that is known for protesting outside of shelters that euthanize animals.
    It's also impossible to say that PETA can't find homes for a higher percentage of these animals, as a much smaller adoption agency (the Virginia Beach SPCA), which is just 5 miles from their Norfolk Headquarters had an adoption rate of 67%.
    Also, PETA has a $9,370 tax-free write-off for a giant walk-in freezer, to store the bodies of its victims, which are then shipped off to a contracted crematorium (“Pet Cremation Services of Tidewater.")
    PETA also overestimates the weight of animals whose euthanasia are recorded in order to account for what would have otherwise been missing chemicals, because it allowed them to euthanize animals off the books.
    In June of 2005 two PETA employees were charged with 31 felony counts of animal cruelty after authorities found them dumping the dead bodies (wrapped in trash bags) of 18 animals they had just picked up from a North Carolina animal shelter into a shopping center dumpster. According to the Associated Press, 13 more dead animals were found in a van registered to PETA.
    Employees at this animal shelter thought that PETA was going to try to find homes for the animals, instead they were killed. Criminal indictments were handed down charging PETA staff members with obtaining animals under false pretenses.
    “I was told regularly to say whatever I had to say in order to get people to surrender animals to me, lying was not only acceptable, it was encouraged.” – Heather Harper, Ex-PETA Employee
    Ingrid Newkirk said it's against the group's policy for employees to dump animals in the trash, but "that for some animals, there is no kinder option than euthanasia."
    Autopsies of the recovered animals proved that there was nothing physically wrong with them and that they were healthy at the time of their deaths.
    Employees were also charged with stealing/killing animals on the same day. On October 18, 2014, two PETA employees were charged with larceny for the theft Maya, a happy and healthy dog who had a home. There was video proof of the employees backing their van up to the porch and throwing biscuits to Maya, in an attempt to coax her off her property and therefore give PETA the ability to claim she was a stray dog. But Maya refused to stray off the porch and ran back. One of the employees then went onto the property and took Maya. They killed her and other animals from the neighborhood that very day.
    Virginia State regulations call for a minimum holding period of five days, but upon further inspection it was revealed that the condition of PETA’s animal “shelter” was below the standards established by the organization itself, and doesn’t have the space to hold these animals for 5 days.
    It's hypocritical – PETA has a death toll that they would most certainly protest if it weren't their own doing. If PETA truly is concerned with the welfare of animals, then why would they kill thousands of animals? They said that “every animal with the will to live has a right to live”, so why should it matter if that animal is in the wild or in a shelter or is living as someone’s pet? Who is PETA to say that an animal would rather die than live in a shelter or in the wild?