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. coco says:

    out of curiosity waylon, are you vegan?

  2. Kim Willis says:

    Wondering if you have read Nathan Winograd's books and are aware of the many communities that have achieved virtually a no kill status. PETA does many laudable things. My opinion is companion animal rescue is not one of them. Unless someone was masquerading as Ingrid Newkirk, she has been very clear that pit bulls should be euthanized pretty much 100% of the time. As someone who has a rescued pit bull that just doesn't sit well with me. I also don't appreciate being told how no kill rescue is the problem. That is absurd. Like all other social issues this requires a multilevel approach. Another thing I read by Ms. Newkirk equated no kill rescue with hoarding. I again found that insulting and indefensible. This is all in addition to the way they exploit the female body in their campaigns.

  3. tia says:

    I have also found that i have diverse opinions on this as well. like peta is one of the richest animal welfare (i will not say rights) organizations in the world, and yes its amazing the light they bring to many issues, they also have tons of money to do more adoptions of companion animals if they so chose. I agree with some of what they say, and am aware that many no-kills do send animals to other "shelters" to be murdered. the bottom line is every pet store should only be allowed to be an adoption store, puppy mills shut down, breeders shut down, all animals spayed and neutered until there are no more homeless animals. actually all beings should be spayed and neutered while we are talking about over population, the biggest over populater is the human. so add us to the list as well.

  4. elephantjournal says:

    I am indeed.

  5. elephantjournal says:

    Thank you so much. I'd love to learn more about no-kill shelters doing it right–I imagine there's the whole range of those who claim to be no-kill, but pawn off dogs they can't find homes for…and those who through fostering and other solutions (?) and creative funding/financing are able to truly save all lives that cross their path.

    In any case I'm sure PETA, like all organizations, even great ones, is full of faults. And I in no way tie myself to defending PETA for anything that's not defensible. I am generally biased, that said, toward taking responsibility for our role (not yours, I mean society's) in creating the problem before enjoying putting out hateful blogs that are more like smear campaigns, and do not really address the problem, or solutions.

  6. elephantjournal says:

    Hopefully they can improve, and this news cycle will inspire them to do so in this area.

  7. William Robson says:

    What purpose does a Vegan have with a cow, pig or chicken?

  8. elephantjournal says:

    Laura: I dislike PETA not because they are not a shelter, but because they advocate for the summary killings of all dogs identified as "pit bulls" and all feral cats. At the same time, they pushed their name out as much as possible in the Michael Vick case while doing absolutely nothing for the Vick dogs or any dogs like them. Until they include all companion animals in their circle of compassion, I have no interest in supporting them as an organization.

  9. Sean says:

    I am curious Waylon if you've encountered the Asilomar Accords before? If not, may I recommend checking out their website to you and to elephantjournal readers?
    We are all passionate about animal welfare and preservation of life so I thought I'd offer this information, not necessarily as a solution to the "PETA is good/PETA is bad" debate —but to start some movement toward real solutions that get results. The Asilomar Accord is not a panacea; it is a useful start that has, at the heart of it, community based engagement. No single organization, no matter their size or resource capability, can take on the issue of pet overpopulation. This is a shared fate among all humans and domestic animals.
    This is from the Asilomar Accords introduction page:
    "In August of 2004, a group of animal welfare industry leaders from across the nation convened at Asilomar in Pacific Grove, California, for the purpose of building bridges across varying philosophies, developing relationships and creating goals focused on significantly reducing the euthanasia of healthy and treatable companion animals in the United States."

    I can say that the problem is not different for us in Canada. Per capita, there are still more cats/dogs than there are people to adopt them . Without pointing in one direction or another saying, "This is the Way" I think that it is important and necessary to share other perspectives toward a goal many (all?) of us share (zero euthanasia of healthy, adoptable animals). Even if we may not agree on methods, tools, or strategies, we simply will not get anywhere, nor make any change, spending our time arguing about the ethics of animal management. Sure, it's important to have ethics, but the discussion has to get beyond right/wrong, bad/good kind of narrow thinking.
    I offer these words with kindness to all.

  10. K Machgregor says:

    You and PETA are completely uninformed about what a true NO KILL Shelter is. That is one that has open intake, meaning accepts all animals, and has the 10 step NO KILL platform in place sucsessfully enough to only kill for behavioral or medical reasons. OTHERWISE NO MATTER WHAT IT CALLS ITSELF IT DOES NOT QUALIFY AS A NO KILL SHELTER!!!
    There are more people that will want to adopt an animal this year than there are animals in the shelters….cut out the breeders, puppy mills and back yard breeders and all animals in all shelters could have homes.

  11. BAC says:

    Passing along this account of working with PeTA: "I volunteered @ a local PETA "shelter" for roughly 6 months a few years ago. I was trying to impress a girl I was dating who worked there. I witnessed first hand many of these things and more. I saw 3 kittens in a cage without food or water & when I went to feed them I was told "Don't bother, they will be put down soon.". I saw a mother cat, after giving birth to its first kitten, euthanized, put in a bag and tossed in a freezer. She had not yet finished giving birth to the other kitten/kittens. I have seen people call in & stop by looking to adopt cats and/or dogs & be turned away. They were told "Sorry, we don't have any available" all the while there were several cats, dogs, puppies & kittens sitting in cages awaiting euthanization. While I'll admit I'm no "animal lover", what I saw there was #@$&ed up. Of the 100 or so animals I saw euthanised I can recall 5 that were unhealthy or old. My last day there, I stole 2 kittens & took them home with me. They sit here with me now as I type this, healthy and alive. I broke up with the girl a week later. (The breakup & the PETA situation were unrelated.) "

  12. LauraG says:

    I dislike PETA not because they are not a shelter, but because they advocate for the summary killings of all dogs identified as "pit bulls" and all feral cats. At the same time, they pushed their name out as much as possible in the Michael Vick case while doing absolutely nothing for the Vick dogs or any dogs like them. Until they include all companion animals in their circle of compassion, I have no interest in supporting them as an organization.

  13. Balasubramanian J says:

    ''Love all living things!'was propounded by Valluvar – a Tamil saint poet some 2000 years back!

  14. To be fair my experience is based on the situation in the UK where fortunately the 'No kill' culture is less of an issue, however your comments that '(those in shelters) tend to be animals that are old, sick but treatable, troubled but workable, not cute in some conventional sense' is misguided and a classic example of public perception. In my experience of being a volunteer in a rehoming centre the animals are usually victims of human circumstance, divorce, babies arriving, unwanted puppies, moving house, death etc. very few are actually 'troubled' those that are may not be able to be re-homed in which case euthanasia is sometimes inevitable but always done preceded with love, warmth, food and compassion until the last breath is taken. Ultimately the problem is down to people but draconian systems such as BSL, feral eutanising instead of spaying is no more the answer than hateful online campaigns from any side of the argument.

  15. Look I understand that PETA does some good work regarding maltreatment of domestic/companion animals but I have a real problem with organisations that make blanket judgement calls about animal husbandry processes as PETA has done with the Australian Wool Industry.

    Our wool is grown on merino sheep. Our environment is extremely dry and hot. We are one of the largest wool growing nations in the world, based on numbers of sheep, land under pasture and tonnage of clip. There are some demands being made by PETA about how our sheep should be treated but these can’t be met in their timeframe as the breed needs to have changes made to it to avoid the crippling lay debilitating disease of fly strike. Fly strike is where a fly crawls into the folds of skin around a sheep’s anus, lays its eggs and then when they hatch the maggots eat their way out – not pretty at all.

    The only treatment to avoid this is a prevention called mulesing which involves cutting the skin off to deny the flies a place to lay their eggs. PETA’s “commercial terrorism” tactics are understandable but have the opposite effect to that desired as they limit the ability of growers to develop alternate solutions by reducing the financial return a wool grower gets on their clip.

    What I would like to see is a balanced approach with achievable targets established with the growers to enable mulesing to be eliminated but unfortunately the fanatics, on both sides, don’t want discussion to occur.

  16. jo moore says:

    i have supported PETA for many years and now i am just plain confused and sad…….after reading nathan's blog……..who the hell do you believe…….

  17. Nan says:

    I worked in a small shelter for years. We'd get there in the morning and find boxes of tiny pups and kittens, which was devastating. We knew there was a greiving mother somewhere who would just have another litter soon. People are stupid, and because of this, sometimes animals must be euthanized. Anyone who thinks this isn't true should give, volunteer, adopt, spay and donate until we change the world.

  18. While PETA has done helpful things in some areas, I cannot support their stance on no kill shelters and their euthanasia tactics:

  19. Padma Kadag says:

    Waylon…had do you reconcile euthanasia, as a buddhist, assuming you have taken bodhisattva vows, or even not? Euthanasia is not a numbers game in buddhism…please tell me how you justify it speaking as the buddhist you say that you are? You publically endorsed euthanasia.

  20. Sfhilrunner says:

    Come to San Francisco, where No Kill shelters started.

  21. Erin says:

    i am not opposed to humane euthenasia. the most concerning part of the story to me was the fact that an overwhelming majority of the animals were killed within 24 hours of coming into PETA's care. they are a huge organization whose name carries weight–a LOT of weight–and it seems that they did not even attempt adoption. also concerning is the shelter "front" in VA.

  22. elephantjournal says:

    I don't know, I give up.

  23. elephantjournal says:

    Could you write this up, or we could share this on elephant? Thank you so much for sharing. You could send to [email protected] and we'll feature it?

  24. elephantjournal says:

    Go easy on the ALL CAPS, friend. I agree, true no kill shelters are great. But many shelters call themselves no kill, and yet where do unadopted dogs and cats go?

    Agree on your last point, generally–cut out the breeders, at least disreputable ones, and all puppy mills and pet shops.

  25. elephantjournal says:

    Wow. I'm so sorry to hear that. Could we share this on elephant? If so, send this and your bio to [email protected] . Thanks for sharing. Our only concern here is to get at the truth, and be fair and constructive about it.

  26. elephantjournal says:

    Thanks so much for commenting. That's nuts if true about pit bulls!? Pits can be and generally are super sweet, of course. In fact, originally they were bred to be companions to children, I think?

  27. elephantjournal says:

    Amen and thank you. Hopefully we can all learn together, here, with comments such as this.

  28. elephantjournal says:

    Great comment and thank you. Mulesing is truly nasty, is it not?–cutting off part of their butts without numbing or treatment…we can't be defending that. Wool is so close (yet so far, thanks to mulesing) to being humane, it'd be great to see us get there.

  29. elephantjournal says:

    It's less about "belief" or faith and more about learning, facts, keeping an open mind.

  30. elephantjournal says:

    Thanks for the conversation! I commented and will add your link to the top of mine.

  31. elephantjournal says:

    Nice way to read my comments. I do not "endorse" killing, of course. I also do not endorse keeping animals in concrete cages forever, either. I endorse adoption, rescue, I endorse the closing of disreputable breeders and puppy mills, and yes I endorse neutering and spaying.

    The point from a Buddhist pov would seem to be the same as any true animal rights activist: to reduce suffering and act with compassion.

  32. elephantjournal says:

    Okay, coming. I love it there. Give me a tour?

  33. elephantjournal says:

    Perhaps because they're a last ditch stop?

  34. Drew Winter says:

    PETA does not run a shelter. This is a lie. I worked at PETA for 2 years at the Norfolk HQ. This person is attempting to smear the organization.

  35. Drew Winter says:

    Too bad PETA doesn't have shelters, you liar.

  36. Bonnie says:

    BAC- I do not support PETA. Of course, euthanasia is better than putting a crearture in a freezer, Asyou said most animals are adoptable. I am glad you took those kittens. I am sitting here crying after the initial shock of reading your comments – I had heard such horror stories about shelters–not only are animals killed inhumanely but while giving birth, I cannot stop crying. I wish in the face of such horrors more people would stand up and say- WAIT what you are doing is wrong and even stand in the way of the ignorant F__K who wants to put an innocent creature in a freezer and say "I will not stand by and let you do that!"

  37. Janna says:

    I can tell you from personal experience that PETA doe snot just go around euthanizing animals all day. I have been an animal advocate for 20+ years as well as a former PETA employee. My first day on the job, at the end of the day we where sent to an elderly ladies home who's 18 year old, blind, def dog could no longer walk. She as with EVERY person who hands over an animal to PETA signed a euthanize waiver just as you would do at your vet for your own pet, she said her goodbyes and I sat holding the dog in my lap while she passed peacefully. I think a lot of people do not realize several things about PETA. First, we literally are an office building, there is no animal intake at the office. Just as we are not a shelter or rescue for dogs and cats, we also dont take in unwanted snakes, guinea pigs, tarantulas, Llamas etc… If you cannot place an expectation of us taking in ANY animal then why place the expectation of dogs? You walk through the front door and there is literally NOTHING there except for an elevator.
    Second, there is a difference between an opinion versus an action. While PETA does support the Euthanasia of "adoptable" animals that does not mean we go around killing dogs all over town! PETA offers free euthanizing services for low income families in the Hampton Roads area of Va. We do not have people lining up at our doors with healthy pets, we dont take their pets and secretly kill them. Where are the public complaints if this is happening? When on occasion a person does contact PETA about an unwanted pet we ALWAYS refer them to the local ASPCA. People in the community know we are an office and I have NEVER seen someone walk up expecting us to just take their pet. Third, That first day of work, I was dressed so nice, in my heels…. and I was told to throw on an old polo shirt because I was going to be getting dirty. I was sent to the ghetto to walk the streets offering dog houses, bedding, food, water, leashes, free spay neuter services, treats etc…. to every household who had a dog, and out of every house I walked up to, only ONE was not a bully breed! I got a million slobbery kisses and I saw grown ass thug men turn to mush when they would walk out to their dogs with us! I never saw one mark on any dog. Im not saying that fighting does not happen. I also know 4 bully breed dogs that come to work in the office with their human everyday. Yes, Pit Bulls at PETA. I actually have two myself. I would suggest before anyone falls for anything Nathan Winograd has to say, look up the FB page "Exposing the truth behind no kill nation". Or hell, even just try and go to his page or the no kill page and try asking him a question, any question about PETA and see how quick he blocks you, he cannot even defend his lies so he just gets rid of you. Do I think in this life time that no kill will be possible? NO. Because there will always be human ignorance, greed and abuse. The Vice President of No Kill is a breeder BTW, in case anyone was wondering how concerned they really are over the population of homeless animals being euthanized.

  38. Padma Kadag says:

    Do you support euthanasia at any point? It seems in your comments that you are not completely against it? Is your, "The point from a Buddhist pov would seem to be the same as any true animal rights activist: to reduce suffering and act with compassion. " Does this include euthanasia?

  39. Janna` says:

    Oh I would like to add that out of every animal who does come into our facility, I would estimate that 0 percent are adopted out. They come to us for the purpose of being euthanized, these are not adoptable animals just being dumped on us. So yes, most certainly they are euthanized right away, would you rather we held them longer to let them suffer??

  40. Kathleen Terrio says:

    Why do you take them? I'm confused – if you are not an adoption organization – PETA could send money to a no-kill shelter and encourage them to find animals homes. Do not accept the animals unless they can be adopted out. There is something fishy going on and PETA should be responding to this directly. I know with the UVIC rabbit rescue they finally responded by saying they did not deal with feral animals – fine – we then looked at other avenues for support.

  41. kmacku says:

    One could interpret euthanasia as the reduction of suffering via a compassionate act.

  42. Mel says:

    What exactly do you think will happen to animals that are not accepted when they can't be adopted out??? Dear ol' unwilling owner is suddenly going to have a change of heart and get the animal the help it needs? I'd certainly rather these unfortunate creatures be humanly euthanized than to be left as strays to starve or become roadkill.

  43. Debi says:

    So by your account PETA is excused from killing companion animals because they admit it?

  44. Angela says:

    Please…the SFSPCA goes out of SF to find "adoptable" dogs and cats, while ignoring the ones at the city run animal care and control (who do the dirty work of killing them due to lack of homes). I know many rescue groups who work their butts off trying to get dogs and cats out of the city run shelter, and find them homes…

  45. Lorissa says:

    Thank you for posting this. I just red the 'other' article on the topic and was sad to see such misinformation. Thank you for bringing the truth to light.

  46. Alice2112 says:

    So you're admitting that "No Kill" Shelters do actually kill animals. That they, "only kill for behavioral or medical reasons". Hmmmm….That is what PETA does. Actually PETA only takes on these animals as they are not an actual animal shelter. Adoptable animals are given to other shelters and never hit their numbers. Quite frankly I'd rather see PETA compassionately euth an animal than some of those scary shelters in VA.

  47. Alice2112 says:

    local PETA shelters don't exist. They don't run shelters. Unless your experience happened at their Front St. HQ, which it clearly didn't b/c nothing you described even exists there, then you are lying. This is horrible how many flat out lies are being perpetuated by people. The vegan/AR community is only hurting itself with these attacks.

  48. Alice2112 says:

    Kathleen, PETA does this only in their local community where their HQ is located in Virginia. They are not an animal shelter nor do they run any animal shelters anywhere else- its an office building like Janna said. To "not accept animals unless they can be adopted out" means turning away animals that are knocking on death's door and leaving them to suffer even more. People do cruel, non-compassionate things to animals when they can't afford their care or to euthanize them. Also, when PETA encounters healthy adoptable animals needing homes, they are given to local shelters, etc. so they don't "count" in PETAs intake statistics. PETA is not responsible for the actions of those local shelters after healthy animals are given to them.

  49. Padma Kadag says:

    One could interpret euthanasia as compassion…but then that person woud not be a buddhist practitioner. I want to hear Waylon's take on this.