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In response to PETA

So yesterday, I had this reply to my short and quick tweet at PETA to practice what they preached. https://twitter.com/peta/status/418610856155299840  They linked two webpages to me, their own website about their facility’s work, and a blog post the CEO of PETA made on Huffington Post.

In response, I offer this open letter.  I apologize for any typographical or grammatical errors.  Those are mine.  But the information on the links I’m giving have been very well researched.

To the person who runs the Peta twitter account, if you clicked the link, thank you for taking the time to at least look at a counter argument.

I’ve read Ingrid Newkirk’s words about the so-called shelter PETA runs before.  This blog post from Huffington is new, as is the bright shiny page of your own website swearing you SAVE animals.  Well, the records from Virginia’s Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services say a different story. In 2010 alone, PETA took in 792 dogs and euthanized 693.  Of cats, you took in 1553 and euthanized 1507.  Zero of those were received from another agency, 1499 of the cats were marked surrendered by owner.  Did you look the owners in the eye and tell them thank you for allowing us to euthanize your cat?    One lucky cat did go back to their owner, one blessed and fortunate cat.  The number that really stands out were the animals you say you had on hand January 1 in 2010.  Six cats and 14 dogs.  Twenty animals out of thousands.  And you’re proud of this?

Actually, no.  Newkirk’s blog post claims that they take in the animals no one else wants.  That you turn away no animal at all. And to back up her claim that PETA takes in the horribly sick, hurt, and abused animals, she added horrific pictures guaranteed to turn a person’s stomach.  So.. going back to the cats, [and yes, I have a reason to pick on cats], you’re going to tell us that the 1507 cats in 2010 were horribly maimed and sick?  Hrmm.  I cry foul.  Maybe in a city the size of Washington DC, for Norfolk?  Let’s take a closer look at that, shall we?

I know Norfolk mainly for the Navy base there.  My cousin was based there for a while, on the U.S.S. Nimitz.  Now, military life comes with it’s own hazards, and combining pet ownership with those hazards has resulted in some horrific stories. But I doubt this figures in as much for your statistics, as you claim to help the rural impoverished folk.

So I looked up the census statistics for Norfolk.  Nice sized town, with a population of 242,803 reported in 2010.  Let’s keep the numbers the same year as the ones above, shall we?   49% white, 43% black, with the remaining 8% being mostly Hispanic or Asian descent.  Not surprising, Native American population there is 0.6%.  But that’s a different cultural post. 

So what you’re saying, in a town the size of Norfolk, you’re going to get 1500 abused and mistreated cats in one year?  As well as 693 dogs and 1430 other Companion Animals?  [for this, I’m assuming you’re meaning birds, ferrets, lizards, snakes, gerbils, hamsters, and the like.  Which is another disturbing number, given how many rescue organizations specialize in species like those.] So 3630 animal abuse cases you take in and euthanize out of the kindness of your hearts.  Yeah I’m still not buying that number.  Especially since, between 2003 and 2005, pet-abuse.com only shows 507 media reported animal abuse cases –statewide-.  Either you’re on the mother lode of animal abuse or your numbers are off.  What’s doubly horrifying if these numbers are true, why aren’t you working with local law enforcement?  There’s not a single word on your website about cooperation on dealing with the human element of these tragedies.

There’s another point I’d like to make, based off your own information.  Back to the Census for a moment.  Median Household Income for those years is reported at $44,164.  That’s a decent income for a two person household, if we figure for your average nuclear family.  But we all know the nuclear family is a myth as well.  Persons living below the poverty level is listed at 18%.  And these are your target families, according to your press releases.  Let’s say low income families in the area are also in the 18-20% range above the poverty level. 

Now, here’s the thing.  You’re being awful sly in the way you’re presenting your data.  By suggesting that you help these people, and you take in these horribly mistreated animals from them, you’re also suggesting that us dumb, poor hicks don’t care about our pets.  I grew up a hick, in a rural area that makes yours look overpopulated.  And the only animal abuse I can remember is when old lady Rackley across the road in our 300 person town kinda went around the bend and started shooting any animal that went across her acreage.   Don’t say it’s because people are poor that their animals end up in horrible conditions.  I’m pretty sure that a lot of the animals you take in, you get because you’re PETA!  You LOVE animals so Sparky’s sure to get a better life while we figure out how to keep our ownselves fed.  Because I promise you, in rural families, kids come first, pets and live stock second, parents third.  

 Not everyone’s perfect, I agree.  But that’s where the animal welfare laws come in, and again, I see a distinct lack of information there.  Usually when PETA’s involved in a media case, your first word is Euthanize.  Other organizations step in to do the actual dirty work to save, succor, and rehabilitate the animals.  The most well known case of which, ironically, also happened in Virginia.  But of the 50 dogs rescued from Michael Vick’s fighting organization, only one had to be put down because of aggression, and only one other due to their physical condition.  Look at the information BAD-RAP, Best Friends, and the legal case report to confirm those.  I also highly recommend the book “Lost Dogs” by Jim Gorant that chronicles the evolution of those dogs. [warning though, Gorant is pretty honest about PETA’s reaction to the case. Might be a bit painful to take the criticism.]

 I’ve gone on quite a bit, I know.  And I am sorry.  But I cannot accept PETA’s word for what they do in their own shelter.  I didn’t even touch on the complaint PETA makes about ‘warehousing’ animals when they argue against No-Kill shelter.  I’m familiar with those.  See the cat in my Twitter icon?  That’s Deuteronomy.  When I found him at a small rescue (also called Best Friends) in Edmond Oklahoma, he was already ten years old.  And he’d been at Best Friends for three years.  But when I walked through the cat room, I didn’t have a choice. He picked me.  He literally reached out and caught my shirt, yowling as if he was asking “Finally!  What took you so long?”

 A 10 year old toothless cat would barely see 24 hours in your shelter.  But thanks to Best Friends, he had another 14 years with me, healthy, happy, and adored.  So in ‘Dude’s’ memory, I have to argue against your practices. 

 If PETA really wants to tell the truth, allow an independent inspector into your shelter.  Take pictures of each animal that walks into your door and post it on the website.  Expand your housing unit and your adoption area.  Promote healthy adoption information.  When people bring you pets because they don’t know what else to do, help them find solutions.

Best of all, practice what you preach.  Stop the killing.  We beg you.

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