Commentary: PETA Should Stop All Its Dealings With Dogs and Cats


Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock lately, you’ve probably heard about PETA’s disturbingly high euthanasia rate at its “shelter” in Norfolk, Virginia, as well as about its recent partnership with several BSL advocate groups. And if you’re like me, you’ve probably been scratching your head in wonderment ever since. This is the organization that calls itself “People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.” How is there anything ethical about euthanizing so many companion animals or profiling dogs because of their breed type? It’s completely counterintuitive to what PETA professes itself to be: a passionate defender of animal rights.

As a former supporter, I used to admire what PETA has done to educate the public about animal abuse while exposing the callous individuals and cruel industries that exploit non-human species. From factory farming and fur to cosmetic testing and circuses, PETA’s powerful investigations and public demonstration campaigns have been instrumental in spreading awareness, changing behaviors, and shifting our society’s attitudes toward animals. They have been relentless in driving the point home that animals do not deserve to be used, abused, or enslaved by humans, and that we have no right to take their innocent lives.

PeTA regularly enlists celebrities, including actress Olivia Munn, in its campaigns. Olivia Munn at her PeTA billboard unveiling by Shutterstock.
PETA regularly enlists celebrities, including actress Olivia Munn, in its campaigns. (Olivia Munn at her PETA billboard unveiling by Shutterstock)

So why is it okay for PETA to preach against killing cows, chickens, or pigs, only to turn around and destroy almost 90 percent of the dogs and cats it “rescues”? While the organization adamantly defends its high-kill practices, claiming its “shelter of last resort” only euthanizes the sick, old, injured, abused, and neglected animals no one else wants, there is a plethora of troubling evidence to the contrary.

According to tragic, first-person accounts from former PETA employees and watchdog groups, the well-funded organization is quick to dispatch healthy, young, and adoptable dogs and cats alongside the sick and too far gone, often within hours of obtaining them, while making no effort to adopt out healthy animals. In some cases, PETA employees have actually stolen pets from their homes, only to euthanize them immediately.

A screenshot of video showing PETA's van pulling up in front of a house where a pet was taken and later euthanized.
A screenshot of video showing PETA’s van pulling up in front of a house in Virginia where a pet was taken by the organization and later euthanized.

You have to wonder what lies at the heart of such a hypocritical ideology that would condemn killing animals used for food, clothing, entertainment, and experimentation, yet willingly carry out the mass slaughter of dogs and cats. Again, this is coming from a donor-funded entity claiming to be a leading defender of animal rights. Perhaps this bewildering dichotomy stems from the fact that PETA doesn’t “believe” in pets, as its website clearly states, along with its skewed philosophy that homeless animals (especially Pit Bulls) are “better off dead” than abused or neglected. But is killing animals really the best way to keep them “safe” from abuse?

I agree that the pet trade causes its fair share of suffering, especially at the hands of irresponsible, greedy humans who systematically contribute to the over-breeding – and thus, the surplus – of companion animals, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t multitudes of kind, responsible people who deeply love their pets and will do whatever it takes to provide them with safe, healthy, and happy lives. I also agree that our country, not to mention our world, could use a permanent hiatus from irresponsible dog breeding, but that effort shouldn’t be breed-specific in nature. Where there is one aggressive bully who has made the news, there are hundreds, even thousands of friendly, balanced, and well-socialized canine citizens. The innocents in this cruel equation should not be the ones paying the ultimate penalty.

While PETA’s so-called “shelter” isn’t the only high-kill facility euthanizing healthy animals in this country, most municipal shelters at least give the dogs and cats in their care a chance to find new homes. There are many good-intentioned shelters working very hard to reform their operations, reduce their kill rates, increase their adoptions, and even go “no-kill.” And while our animal sheltering system is indeed flawed and in need of strong and expedient reform, we must also remember that these underfunded facilities are tasked with handling a daunting problem — one that the irresponsible and negligent public has created.

According to the policy of PETA and anti-pit activists, this is where Pit Bulls belong, and this is where they will stay. (Pit Bull in Cage via Shutterstock)
According to the policy of PETA and anti-Pit activists, this is where Pit Bulls belong, and this is where they will stay. (Pit Bull in Cage via Shutterstock)

The word “ethical” is defined as “pertaining to or dealing with morals or the principles of morality; pertaining to right and wrong in conduct.” Clearly there is nothing ethical about PETA’s systematic destruction of healthy, adoptable companion animals, or its targeting of a certain breed type that some misinformed individuals and extremist groups believe to be dangerous. Correct me if I’m wrong, but aren’t animal protection organizations supposed to protect animals?

PETA, do the dogs and cats of the world a favor by removing yourself from dealings with them. Leave these innocent creatures to the rescues and shelters that “believe in” companion animals, support responsible pet parenting, and are passionate about helping homeless animals find the loving forever homes they deserve. Leave them to the tireless saviors who aren’t daunted by the injured, abused, or neglected, to those who believe that every animal is worth saving. Do it and maybe, just maybe, you’ll eventually re-earn the trust of all those dog- and cat-loving supporters you’ve lost. Because in the end, you cannot expect to survive by maintaining a philosophy so diametrically opposed to what you’re supposed to be championing.

It’s one thing to euthanize animals who are suffering and beyond help, but it’s another to destroy healthy and adoptable animals who have every potential to live long, happy lives with people who love them. It’s one thing to support the end of the backyard breeding and the fighting and abuse of Pit Bulls, but it’s another to join forces with groups whose endgame is to eradicate that breed type from the face of the earth. The good PETA has done for some animals does not make up for the harm it continues to inflict upon companion animals. It’s simply homicide. Or, rather, “PETAcide.”

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About the author: Lisa Plummer Savas is a freelance writer, journalist, devoted dog mom and animal activist. In an effort to help make the world a more compassionate place for non-human species, Lisa uses her writing to spread awareness about animal welfare and cruelty issues. She lives in Atlanta with two spoiled German Shepherds, one very entitled Pug, and a very patient, understanding husband. Read more of her work by visiting her blog and website. You can also follow her on Twitter.

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