At PETA’s shelter, most animals are put down. PETA calls them mercy killings.

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Prudence the rabbit, now about six months old, was jammed into a filthy crate and exposed to bitter cold. She is now up for adoption at PETA's animal shelter in Norfolk, Vir. Religion News Service photo by Lauren Markoe

Prudence the rabbit, now about six months old, was jammed into a filthy crate and exposed to bitter cold. She is now up for adoption at PETA's animal shelter in Norfolk, Vir. Religion News Service photo by Lauren Markoe

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(RNS) People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals doesn't want you to wear or eat any animal. But it euthanizes thousands of animals at its Virginia shelter -- the kindest thing it can do for them, it says.

  • Fran

    That rate of 80% was just too sad is that?

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  • Steve

    I work at a college of veterinary medicine in the south, and our students operate a major relocation project for shelter animals. Shelters in our region often are filled to capacity and do not have the funds to keep animals indefinitely if they are not adopted. However, to decrease the number that have to be euthanized, our students drive animals to shelters in the Northeastern U.S., which do not have enough animals to satisfy demand. I understand that this wouldn’t work for all of PETA’s animals since many are sick or very old, but it is very surprising that they are not trying something like this for some of the animals. My real problem with PETA, however, is their opposition to use of animals in biomedical research. Virtually every drug developed in the last 40 years depended on animal testing to prevent release of toxic drugs. Cell cultures and other methods are not reliable enough yet to replace animals.

  • Jon Erickson

    I eat beef, pork, chicken and tuna. I hunt venison. I fish Colorado streams. I fight with my cat and she with me. But I appreciate that PETA is attempting to address pet problems, both by adoption and sadly, ending the lives of adoptable pets. At times they have offended me with their attitudes but I believe they are part of an educational process that we can all benefit from; to realize that there can be ethical treatment of animals, that too many people take on pets and do not follow through, and that at times, animals deserve to be freed from pain in disease and old age. PETA can be part of the problem through their judgment but also part of the solution through their educational efforts. Neither of these makes them hipocrites in my book.

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  • Jennofur

    Wanting to believe that “no-kill” is the answer is understandable, but turning a blind eye to the reality of these facilities is not. No-kill means SLOW-KILL. Dogs and cats need love, attention, play and to be part of a family … not sitting in cages waiting for a home that does not exist. It’s that simple. I applaud PETA for doing the heartbreaking, thankless work and those who are condemning them are in profound denial about the scope and scale of this crisis.

  • Bless PETA for stepping up to help animals in their community who are suffering and have nowhere else to go—even when the kindest thing that can be done for many of these animals is a painless end through euthanasia.
    PETA takes in dogs who are aggressive and unadoptable because they have been kept chained their entire lives; feral cats with contagious diseases; animals who are wracked with cancer; elderly animals who have no quality of life and whose desperate guardians brought them to PETA because they can’t afford to pay a vet to euthanize them; and the list goes on.

    PETA pours its time and money into stopping animal homelessness at its source. Last year alone, they spayed and neutered nearly 11,000 dogs and cats at little to no cost to their guardians, preventing countless animals from being born only to end up homeless. They deliver warm, straw-filled doghouses to chained dogs; provide free vet care; educate the public about the need to spay, neuter and more.

  • M. E.

    Thank you for this fair look at PETA – they do a lot of good that is often overshadowed by their euthanasia numbers. While it is sad to end any animal’s life (at a shelter or in a slaughterhouse), people have to understand that until we have ‘no birth’ we cannot have ‘no kill’.

  • Steve

    I work at a college of veterinary medicine, and our students (with money from their own pockets and local fundraisers) take shelter animals from our area, where there are more animals than people willing to adopt them and transport them to the northeastern U.S. where demand is greater than supply. They save dozens of animals each year by taking the trouble to spend some of their rare vacation time driving dogs more than 1000 miles to give them a chance to live. It would seem that PETA, an organization that seems to be dripping with money, could find a way to do something similar and at least make an effort to decrease their euthanasia rate. However, PETA’s real problem is that it’s members and followers are morally inconsistent. They do not want animals used in medical research, so they should refuse all medical treatments developed using animals (which is almost all medical treatments).

  • Heather Moore

    I knew about–and supported–PETA’s policy on euthanasia long before I joined. No one can blame PETA or responsible animal shelters for doing society’s dirty work and euthanizing animals. There just aren’t enough homes, or even cages, for the millions of animals who wind up in shelters each year. Instead of pointing fingers at a group that works to help homeless animals by promoting spaying and neutering and shelter adoptions, please focus on breeders, pet stores, and people who buy animals and allow them to breed.

  • nopetaplease

    I’m a huge proponent of quality of life over quantity of life & I strongly believe there’s a fate worse than death for some animals. But I have a hard time believing PETA encounters only the worst types of cases & with their budget are unable to save more of the animals they take in. PETA’s own site states “…we believe that it would have been in the animals’ best interests if the institution of “pet keeping” -i.e., breeding animals to be kept and regarded as “pets”- never existed.” Based on this belief, PETA shouldn’t be making decisions on who lives & who dies. It’s clear they think pets are better off dead than living with humans. This perspective likely has a lot to do with why their euthanasia rates are so high, which they typically justify by claims that they encounter only the most horrific cases.

  • nopetaplease

    Also, huge, huge thank you to Senator Stanley for standing up for the animals of Virginia!! It’s great to have someone on their side in this state!

  • socialjusticeNOW!

    PETA are opposed to the very concept of pet ownership, so it makes sense that they would rather kill animals than place them in slavery to humans.

    You have to try to be empathetic and see things through other people’s perspective.

  • Catgrrl

    Sen. Stanley wants to regulate PETA’s shelter without ever having laid eyes on it. I wish I could say this is an anomaly in Virginia politics…

  • Kristina

    A shelter that the general public doesn’t know about. A shelter that if you go in ad ask the main floor about, you will be told there is no shelter. Officials were sent to the “shelter” not that long ago and it does not even meet the barest definitions of one.

    Seriously ask yourself when is the last time you have EVER heard of PETA hosting an adoption event?

    In no way shape or form will I support any organization that would be happy with the outright elimination of PETS as a part of our society. An organization that supports Breed specific legislation. Don’t care how you feel about VA politics, PETA is a sham run by a zealot and if you don’t believe me look at the things Ingrid herself has said.

    I am all for PETA having to play by the actual rules and not their own in the future.

  • Billysees

    I’ve heard that there are efforts to have pet stores sell only ‘rescue pets’.

    What a great idea to help those kinds of animals find ‘forever homes’.

  • Be Brave

    PETA is just too radical to be of any service to society as a whole. Their ideology is too disturbingly weird and denies the reality of what a breeds and pets get out of life with their adopted family. Now, having said that, there should be laws about having to keep your pet until the very end and having the county you live in help with that. If a county is going to allow pet ownership, then there should be funds set aside to respectfully and with dignity, ends its life if that is the case.

    PETA shouldn’t be attacked for euthanizing the animals in their care. Even though I don’t support their mission, I’ll bet these animals they put down are treated with kindness and respect.

  • Jeffrey Marterer

    I’ve seen this article almost word-for-word attributed to a number of authors. There is a trade group that represents the meat, fur, & pet industry that wrote it. I don’t always agree with PETA but in this case, they are simply dealing with a problem that pet owners caused, irresponsible breeding.
    By the way, I keep reading that there’s more demand for pets than supply in the northeast. I happen to know for a fact that many dogs & cats are being euthanized by city/ county shelters in the northeast. Pit bull mixes, which make up the vast majority of dogs at my local shelter, are euthanized on a regular basis.
    Rather than criticizing PETA, we should save our wrath for the idiots who don’t spay or neuter.