It’s Groundhog Day again and apparently our friends over in that bizarre parallel universe otherwise known as PETA still don’t like my robot idea. Some things never change. The piece below was originally published 3 years ago. In the 1096 days since then, more than 80 additional communities have achieved save rates of 90% or higher, accomplishing tremendous things on budgets a tiny fraction of PETA’s, despite the very serious disadvantage of being nothing but a bunch of cleverly disguised hoarders and dogfighters, while the kind folks at PETA continue to kill over 90% of the pets they get their morally superior hands on.
It doesn’t make any sense to me either.
A modest proposal: PETA should ‘euthanize’ only animatronic dogs and cats
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has once again made headlines for suggesting the use of animatronic technology as a means of protecting animals, this time suggesting that Punxsutawney Phil be replaced with a robotic groundhog, on the grounds that having an actual groundhog pop his head out of a hole in front of an audience once a year is a form of animal cruelty. They had earlier suggested that UGA replace its mascot with ‘robodawg’ after the untimely passing of Uga’s most recent incarnation. Additionally, PETA has produced a video in which robotic cats attempt to make robotic kittens. Clearly they are aware of the great potential this technology has for the protection of animals, but they are overlooking one use which would save thousands of dogs and cats every year, and it’s right there in front of them. It is so obvious, how could they not see it?
PETA kills thousands of pets every year, and many, if not most of these pets would be deemed adoptable by a No Kill shelter. No Kill shelters save 90% or more of the animals that come through their doors, whether or not they are open-admission. PETA, by contrast, seeks out andkills over 90% of the animals they get their hands on. In 2006, they killed 97%. In 2007, they killed 91%. In 2008, they killed 96%. There is no reason to believe that 2009 will be any different once the numbers are finally released.*
If PETA were to switch to ‘euthanizing’ robotic dogs and cats (and the occasional chicken), rather than killing actual living, breathing dogs and cats (and the occasional chicken), literally thousands of animal lives would be saved every year. Rescuing could be left to real rescuers. That infamous walk-in freezer at PETA headquarters could instead be filled with tofu burgers. PETA could inject Fatal-Plus into robots while the cameras roll. It would be great publicity. The technology would be very simple, since the robots wouldn’t need to do anything fancier than play dead. They could be reused time and again, which would be much more environmentally friendly than filling up dumpsters with dead pets. The money saved by eliminating the need to cremate tons of dead pets could be spent on spay-neuter assistance, or on more ads featuring naked celebrities.
If PETA would only stick its collective head out of its collective hole, it could catch a glimpse of the growing No Kill movement.
Everyone would live happily ever after.
*Note: The pertinent numbers to look at in these data are the numbers of animals taken in for adoption and the numbers of animals killed. PETA habitually includes animals brought to its spay-neuter clinic for surgery to obfuscate the true gravity of its statistics. When calculating the kill rate, the animals brought for surgery were, of course, left out.
Let PETA know about the benefits of ‘euthanizing’ robotic pets:
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals
501 Front Street
Norfolk VA 23510
Having convinced themselves that rounding up and killing healthy and treatable pets is somehow vegan, the staff and supporters of PETA try to keep the awful truth from the animal lovers who contribute to their $30 million budget, but more and more people are finding out, and they are having to try harder and harder. On rare occasions they publicize a rescue, real or imagined, and then offer the animal up for adoption, real or imagined–the truth being rarer than unicorns in PETA-land. Mostly they just lie about the nature of what they do.
Someday, PETA will stop rounding up and killing pets, and getting there will be a very interesting process, in the “may you live in interesting times” sense of the word “interesting. It won’t involve the sudden realization that what they have been doing is wrong and that there is a better way, because they already know both of those things on some level and that knowledge has not stopped them from unfettered killing. If you’re looking for integrity, don’t look at PETA. Will that day be brought about by legislation? Loss of funds? Legal action? A complete turnover of personnel? Those things will take years and the animals that fall into their hands need people to intervene on their behalf now.
Please do take a moment or two to ask PETA to switch to killing robots.
And while PETA does not have a Petfinder site and doesn’t typically advertise pets for adoption, they do have an adoption application. It isn’t easy to come by, but now you can download a copy here. A pretty unimpressive Word document, but it is interesting that they ask “How many companion animals do you own now? ” and ”How long you have owned him/her” (emphasis added). I thought they only liked ownership when they could use it to sneak out of some legal hot water. Also “Where is the animal now?” A coarsely-phrased but interesting question, coming from people who, if they were honest, would have to answer many thousands of times over: ”in some landfill somewhere”. I admit that I find the thought of telling those people any personal information rather creepy, but I can’t help but wonder what would happen if PETA were to suddenly start receiving adoption applications from people informed about what PETA really is? Would they be ignored? Would applicants be opening themselves up for harassment? Would they be placing their pets at risk? How would this all look?
How do any animals get out of there alive?
I find it creepy because the whole thing is so lopsided with a hefty dose of crazy added for good measure. In a No Kill community, a shelter is a positive part of the community, and has to earn its trust every day. Fortunately, earning trust is a natural part of taking in lost and homeless pets and reuniting them with their families of finding them new ones, providing sick and injured animals with medical care and a clean place to stay, treating volunteers with respect, and so forth. You can expect you adoption application to be handled in a professional manner in a No Kill community. PETA is the exact opposite of all that. They do all manner of crazy things and answer to no one.
So, what to do with the adoption application? I have a couple of ideas:
Click here for the original article.
Now may be your chance to adopt a creature so rare, few have ever seen one. Only a handful of these creatures come into existence each year, and how they do so is is a mystery. They are so rare, that some question that they exist at all.
Here’s a picture of the animal in question:
You may be thinking that I’ve lost my mind. ”That is a black cat. My local shelter and rescue groups have dozens of black cats available for adoption,” you say.
Ah, yes. Midnight, if she is even real, is different. Very, very different.
Midnight is apparently being offered for adoption by PETA.
Yes, PETA, the folks who brought you the Piggly Wiggly Dumpster Incident in 2005. The ones who brought you the Woo-Hoo You’re Gonna Kill Again! Gift Basket Incident last month. The ones who support continued killing and viciously attack No Kill efforts. The ones who have killed nearly every pet they have gotten their hands on in 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011.* They’ve killed over 25,000 healthy and treatable pets in the past ten years, and they show no sign of intending to slow down or stop. Some consider PETA to be a destructive cult.
Given this backdrop of death, untrustworthiness, and downright craziness, you’ll have to excuse me for being a bit skeptical.
So, I have a few questions:
But, hey, you never know. If you are a cat lover with a penchant for cryptozoology, you might want to adopt
Now Midnight is settling in at PETA’s Norfolk, Virginia, headquarters and is waiting patiently for the right adoptive family. She will be microchipped and spayed before adoption. If you are ready to make a lifetime commitment and give Midnight the safe, loving home that every cat deserves, please e-mail Adopt@peta.org.
If you succeed, or if you know anything about this cat, I’d like to hear from you.
*Oddly, the 2009 stats don’t appear to be properly posted on the VDACS site (maintained by the state of Virginia where PETA is headquartered). They are available in the article to which I linked, however. A word about the numbers reported:
You’ll notice that there are a lot of animals listed in the categories “others” and “reclaimed by owner”. Those are animals that were brought in for spay-neuter surgery. They were never taken in “for purposes of adoption” and so should not be included in these statistics, but they are, because PETA wants to conceal the true gravity of its statistics. The pertinent numbers are in the columns “surrendered by owner” and “euthanized”. You’ll notice that these two numbers are very similar. That’s because PETA kills most of the animals it takes in “for purposes of adoption”.
You can compare PETA’s statistics to those of other agencies in Virginia by changing the agency identification number in the url (i.e. …fac_num=157… identifies PETA). In keeping with the ‘license to kill’ theme, let’s try ‘007’. That gives us the statistics for an organization called SOS-SAFE, or Saving Animals from Euthanasia. How about that? You’ll find that their numbers are quite a bit different from PETA’s.
PETA went down to Georgia, they were looking for some souls to steal.
Ingrid’s in a bind ‘cos she’s way behind and she’s willin’ to make a deal.
When she came across some people savin’ animals and bloggin’ on the ‘net.
So she jumped up on a Piggly Wiggly dumpster and said: “Mayor, let me tell you what:
“I guess you didn’t know it, but I’m an animal killer too.
“And if you’d care to take a dare, I’ll make a bet with you.
“Now you tell some a pretty good lies, Mayor, but give Old Ingrid her due:
“I bet a needle of gold against your soul, ‘cos I think I’m better than you.”
The people said: “We’re just regular folks, and it might be a sin,
“But if she takes your bet, she’s gonna regret, ‘cos we’re the best that’s ever been.”
Mayor, you do your “research” and fight those advocates hard.
‘Cos hell’s broke loose in Georgia and the PETA don’t deal the cards.
And if you win you get this shiny needle made of gold.
But if you lose, well, either way, the Butcher of Norfolk gets your soul.
Old Ingrid opened up her case and she said: “I’ll start this show.”
And fire flew from her fingertips as she pulled up the blue juice, you know.
Then she pushed the plunger down and it made an evil hiss.
And a band of morons joined in and it sounded something like this:
[Hoarders! Dogfighters! Irresponsible public! Pit bulls! Feral cats! Pet overpopulation! We have to kill! Kill! Kill! Kill! KILL!!!]
When she’d finished, the people said: “Well, if it was about money, you’dve won.
“But sit down in that chair, right there, and let us show you how it’s done.”
Feral cats in the community? T-N-R
Puppies in homes gettin’ foster care.
Volunteers at an offsite, adoptin’ out pets.
“Boss, are we done now?”
“No, not, yet.”
Old Ingrid wouldn’t bow her head, couldn’t admit that she’d been beat.
She snatched that golden needle from the ground at the Mayor’s feet.
The people said: “PETA, just come on back if you ever want to try again.
‘cause we done told you once, you son of a bitch (no offense to female dogs), we’re the best that’s ever been.”
And they went: Feral cats in the community? T-N-R
Puppies in homes gettin’ foster care.
Volunteers at an offsite, adoptin’ out pets.
“Boss, are we done now?”
“No, not, yet.”
With apologies to the great Charlie Daniels.
“The most potent and cost-effective outreach vehicle is the development of a creative volunteer program. Were shelters to place a high priority on this area through attracting, training, and skillfully utilizing a volunteer outreach corps, they could begin the transition from killing site to a community resource center. A true shelter should be a place where life is afﬁrmed, both in teaching and practice, not a building permeated with the odor of death” ~Ed Duvin, “In the name of mercy,” 1989
PETA has some advice for communities looking to end the population-control killing of homeless pets: keep right on killing.
My head hurts. My heart hurts. I am not surprised.
Some weeks have a theme. This week’s theme has been cognitive dissonance, that feeling you get when presented with inconceivably mind-bending scenarios. It can lead to a search for answers, a further exploration and questioning of oneself and the world, to a desire to reshape the world and oneself, or it can lead to a distortion of thought, forcing it to fit where it does not. What you choose to do with it makes all the difference in the world.
To become a No Kill advocate is to step through the looking glass of animal welfare, into a world where what is is so often the opposite of what is logical, just, and common sense. Every day is filled with cognitive dissonance. Killing is kindness. Nobody wants to kill, yet shelters kill 3-4 million pets every year—half of all they take in. Shelters kill animals with rescue on the way. People calling themselves animal lovers make excuses for these things. Killing healthy and treatable and friendly pets is “euthanasia.” We call the places that do the killing “shelters.” Pets are labeled “unwanted,” blaming them for their own killing. And so on, and so on.
And the organization billing itself as the “largest animal rights organization in the world,” the one known for extremism in advocating against the wearing of fur, the eating of meat, and the testing of cosmetics on animals, the one known for its founder’s statement that “animals are not ours to eat, wear or experiment on,” the one for which no ad campaign in the name of veganism is too tasteless, makes excuses for the killing of homeless pets, advocates the killing of homeless pets, and kills thousands of homeless pets every year.
How do “animal rights” and “needless killing” manage to peacefully coexist within the same organization and within the individuals that comprise it? The right to live is fundamental to all others. Without that, there are no other rights. How are they unable to see the hypocrisy of this, even when it is pointed out to them repeatedly, even when the evidence piles as high as the stack of dead bodies in that infamous walk-in freezer? How do they recognize the role cognitive dissonance plays in how other people justify what they do to animals, choosing to keep the same old beliefs when confronted with conflicting information, yet can’t see it in themselves?
Up is down and black is white.
The excuses are a slow-moving target, but a moving target nonetheless. There’s the irresponsible public, which has enjoyed perhaps the longest popularity–over 35 years; pet overpopulation, another classic; and, more recently the notion that animal rescue is often a front for hoarding and dog fighting has been on the ascent, perhaps as the previous two are losing some of their old appeal. These excuses all have a few things in common—they are false—myths created from gross exaggerations and deliberate misrepresentations, but with small grains of truth that have given them traction. A minority of pet owners are irresponsible, that is true, and those who work in shelters or rescue will see a disproportionate number of this minority, but that is not why shelters kill. There are a lot of homeless animals, but that is not the same thing as ‘overpopulation.’ Hoarding and dog fighting exist, but to say that they are epidemic in animal rescue is nothing but a lie concocted to serve a nefarious purpose.
Hoarding is a mental illness, and hoarding of animals is a relatively rare mental illness. Mental health experts have yet to reach a consensus as to its underlying cause. Animal hoarding cases receive an increasing amount of media attention because they are so freakish and unusual. A search of the Pet-Abuse website, a site that tracks all manner of cases of pet abuse, for hoarding cases* with the keyword ‘Georgia’ yielded 12 cases in the entire state in over 10 years. Of those, two involved rescue—one was a volunteer (but not a foster care volunteer) at a rescue, the other, was the Loonie Farms case.
The state of Georgia, unlike many, requires that animal shelters and rescues be licensed and inspected by the Department of Agriculture. There are currently over 400 nonprofit rescue groups licensed in Georgia. Suffice to say, that rescue hoarding is very, very rare.
Shelter killing is commonplace. A report prepared by the Georgia Voters for Animal Welfare estimates that Georgia’s taxpayer-funded animal control shelters kill 62% of the animals they take in–260,000 dogs and cats every year, so in the past 10 years, Georgia shelters killed upwards of 2.6 million animals. (The overall trend nationwide is that killing is declining, so would likely have been even higher in the years prior to the GVAW report.) Many thousands of animals die in Georgia shelters for every one that may end up in these bad rescue situations.
And how many dogfighters would want to get a rescue license from the Department of Agriculture and deal with paperwork and inspections so that they could pull animals from shelters when they could steal them or get them from ‘free-to-good homes’ ads? Clearly these risks are grossly overstated.
Which brings me to a letter sent from PETA to Mayor Teresa Tomlinson of Columbus, GA. You can read it by clicking here. Apparently the No kill advocacy going on in Columbus caught PETA’s attention and they wanted to offer the beleaguered mayor some advice that only an organization that kills nearly every animal they get their hands on can. They hope their letter finds her well. They always hope their letters find the recipient well. It’s like they don’t have the social skills or brainpower to come up with a different opening line.
Things have been heating up in Columbus in recent months as a growing number of its citizens become aware of the mismanagement and rampant killing there, and of the fact that there is a better way. This past week a dog named Lexie was killed despite having an adoption commitment. Further background on the Columbus situation is available here, here, and here. The local TV station aired this piece recently, and the public response to it led to another one airing February 22 in which the Mayor cited this letter from PETA as support for her claim that not killing would be harmful to animals.
And this during not just any week, but the very week that PETA’s own kill stats for 2011 were released. PETA kills the animals it seeks out and takes in to its Bates Motel for pets so-called shelter (they alternately refer to it as a ‘shelter’ or an ‘office building,’ depending on the situation) at a rate of 97%–far worse than all but a handful of Georgia animal controls. This is despite, or perhaps because of its budget of over $30 million. Bill yourself as a champion of rights, build a relentless publicity machine, and you too can get away with murder.
In 2011, PETA took in 2029 animals (mostly dogs and cats, and some “other” animals such as rabbits) “for purpose of adoption.” They killed 1965 of them. Only 28 were adopted and 11 reclaimed. PETA transferred 34 to kill shelters, where they may or may not have been adopted and other animals may or may not have been killed to make room for them. PETA’s adoption rate in 2011 was 1.4%. One-point-four percent. 97% went on to occupy the walk-in freezer in PETA’s headquarters. Keep in mind that over 90% of pets entering shelters are healthy or treatable, and there is no evidence that the pets taken in and killed by PETA are any different. PETA has been consistently unable to produce evidence otherwise, even when pointedly asked.
PETA would prefer that the status quo continue. Though they apparently aren’t aware that rescues are licensed and inspected in GA, they disparage concerned citizens, animal rescuers and No Kill advocates (some of whom are or have been shelter directors themselves) as “individuals and groups unfamiliar with the inner workings of animal care and control facilities (or the daily challenges and heartbreaks that shelter workers face).” Really? What is it about these “inner workings” that cannot be understood by ordinary people not inducted into the mysteries? They don’t explain that but present a collection of straw men, falsehoods and a couple of articles, one of them poorly written fear mongering about hoarding, the other one they apparently didn’t read very carefully. It concludes with the story of how Best Friends, perhaps the best-known no-kill animal sanctuary in the country, and host of the annual No More Homeless Pets Conference, orchestrated rescue and adoption for the hundreds of feline victims of the FLOCK hoarding case in Pahrump, NV.
They cite cases where No Kill has not succeeded, but fail to mention that none of those were following the No Kill Equation, the only proven method for ending population control killing in open-admission shelters. They ignore the growing list of communities where No Kill is succeeding—28 as of this writing. They ignore that we have known that it can be done for almost 11 years.
The letter is signed by Jennifer Brown, who notes that she can be reached at (630)966-8895 or JenniferB@peta.org.
On one side we have the product of the nation’s oldest animal welfare organization, the ASPCA’s Tactics of the Extremist Agenda, and on the other the product of an organization over 100 years younger, one that prides itself on being seen as extremist in the name of animal rights, yet which kills and rehashes excuses for killing that mostly date from before it was founded. PETA has nothing of substance to offer. It is weak, derivative and backward, trading off the false image it has crafted.
Why would anyone want to take advice (and say so on TV!) on animal sheltering from an organization, which, despite a budget of over $30 million, has an even worse kill rate than all but a very few in Georgia? Why align oneself with an organization that is unpopular with those who don’t care about animals and is doubly so with informed people who care about homeless pets? Why do so while claiming to be “the most progressive”? That is not a winning situation no matter how you look at it.
Ed Duvin, who sparked the No Kill movement with his 1989 essay “In the Name of Mercy,” could have been rebutting PETA’s campaign against the No Kill movement in general, and against Virginia’s S.B 359 in particular when he wrote “Speciesism: Alive and Well”. Heck, I hope this finds them well:
“Instead of recognizing our movement’s historical and contemporary role in this holocaust, many leaders continue to rationalize it on the basis of a “humane” death being preferable to a “miserable” life – further arguing that we are best able to provide this “merciful” end. Desperate humans are grievously suffering by the tens of millions all over the world, but who can imagine relief agencies endorsing systematic euthanasia as an acceptable policy. A vastly different ethic applies for companion animals, however, and most of our movement remains silent.”
“Deciding that death for other beings is preferable to a risk-ﬁlled life is not euthanasia in its traditional form, but rather a lethal manifestation of speciesism that projects our own fears and values onto another species, and then proclaims – as though we were omniscient gods – that death is our loving “gift” to them.”
“A recent issue of the leading shelter publication spared no effort in denigrating progressive programs to support feral cats. The thrust of this dogmatic criticism was that euthanasia is preferable to neuter-and release programs, claiming such programs expose ferals to the risk of “terrifying lives and tragic deaths.” Here again, we see the “kill, kill, kill” mentality – arrogantly presuming that certain death is a kinder fate for ferals than uncertain life. How ironic, as Thoreau pointed out, that the most desperate lives are lived quietly by humans, and yet no one is euthanizing us for our own protection!”
“During the past few years, I have witnessed more anger from the Shelter Establishment directed at critics than the grotesque slaughter, and this sorrowful lack of priority and proportion is indicative of a malignancy in the soul of our movement.”
The thing is, he wrote that back in 1990. It’s 2012 and they still don’t get it.
If you are from Virginia, please join Alley Cat Allies, No Kill advocates, and some of the best-performing shelters in the country in voicing your support for S.B. 359, which clarifies that TNR is not prohibited in Virginia by clicking here.
Ten out of ten pets surveyed indicated that they would prefer crate training to a ride in the PETA death van. Ten out of ten pets surveyed would prefer eating treats bought at the Piggly Wiggly over being thrown dead into the dumpster behind the Piggly Wiggly.
Apparently, opposing No Kill shelter reforms isn’t crazy enough for them, the wingnuts at PETA also find it necessary to show how little they know about the care of pets that are actually, you know, still breathing, that they are campaigning against the use of crates. Above is an actual PETA ad that has been edited for truthfulness.