Don't be fooled by the slick propaganda of PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. The organization may claim to champion the welfare of animals, as the many photos of cute puppies and kittens on its website suggest. But last week, two PETA employees were charged with 31 felony counts of animal cruelty each, after authorities found them dumping the dead bodies of 18 animals they had just picked up from a North Carolina animal shelter in a Dumpster. According to The Associated Press, 13 more dead animals were found in a van registered to PETA.
The arrest followed a rash of unwelcome discoveries of dead animals dumped in the area. According to veterinarian Patrick Proctor, the PETA people told North Carolina shelters they would try to find the dogs and cats homes. He handed over two adoptable kittens and their mother, only to learn later that they had died, without a chance to find a home, in the PETA van.
"This is ethical?" Proctor railed over the phone. "I don't really think so."
This is not the first report that PETA killed animals it claimed to protect. In 1991, PETA killed 18 rabbits and 14 roosters it had previously "rescued" from a research facility. "We just don't have the money to care for them," then PETA-Chairman Alex Pacheco told The Washington Times. The PETA shelter had run out of room.
The Center for Consumer Freedom, which represents the food industry, a frequent target of PETA campaigns, released data filed by PETA with the state of Virginia that shows PETA has killed more than 10,000 animals from 1998 to 2003.
"In 2003, PETA euthanized over 85 percent of the animals it took in," said a press release from the lobby, "finding adoptive homes for just 14 percent. By comparison, the Norfolk (Va.) SPCA found adoptive homes for 73 percent of its animals and Virginia Beach SPCA adopted out 66 percent."
The center's David Martosko considered PETA's hefty budget -- reportedly, $20 million -- and many contributions from well-heeled Hollywood celebrities, then figured, "PETA has enough money in the bank to care for every unwanted animal in Virginia (where it has its headquarters) and North Carolina."
Except PETA apparently prefers to spend donations not caring for flesh-and-blood animals entrusted to it, but on campaigns attacking medical researchers, meat eaters or women wearing furs. It is as if PETA prefers the idea of animals to animals themselves.
Why does PETA kill animals that might otherwise find a home? I repeatedly phoned PETA, but I never reached an official who would answer my questions. PETA's website spun the story under the banner, "PETA helping animals in North Carolina," with an emphasis on its efforts to "solve the animal overpopulation in North Carolina."
Here's more: "PETA has provided euthanasia services to various counties in that state to prevent animals from being shot with a .22 behind a shed or gassed in windowless metal boxes -- both practices that were carried out until PETA volunteered to provide painless death for the animals." Make that painless deaths for animals that could have found love.
Besides, PETA always has been about killing animals. A 2003 New Yorker profile included PETA top dog Ingrid Newkirk's story of how she became involved in animal rights after a shelter put down stray kittens she brought there. So she went to work for an animal shelter in the 1970s, where, she explained: "I would go to work early, before anyone got there, and I would just kill the animals myself. Because I couldn't stand to let them go through (other workers abusing the animals). I must have killed a thousand of them, sometimes dozens every day."
That's right. PETA assails other parties for killing animals for food or research. Then it kills animals -- but for really important reasons, like because it has run out of room.
Martosko hopes animal lovers will learn that their donations will do more good at a local animal shelter than at PETA. "For years," he added, "we thought that PETA just cared for animals more than they cared for humans. But now it seems they don't care much for either."
No lie about not caring for people. In 2003, Newkirk hectored late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat because a terrorist blew up a donkey in an attempt to blow up people. Newkirk also told The New Yorker the world would be a better place without people. She explained why she had herself sterilized: "I am opposed to having children. Having a purebred human baby is like having a purebred dog -- it's nothing but vanity, human vanity."
Now you know. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals doesn't really like people. PETA has no use for ethics. And PETA kills animals.
Note to readers: My husband, Wesley J. Smith, is a senior fellow on animal rights issues at the Discovery Institute.