by Annie Lewandowski
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, more commonly known as PETA, is a organization that has stirred up some controversy in the realm of animal activism. In comparison to groups like ASPCA and WWF, PETA falls into a more extreme category when it comes to their views. They promote a complete lifestyle switch to veganism (a choice which I believe in wholeheartedly) and a total abandonment of partaking in products that may have been made through the exploitation of animals. Their belief system expands beyond conventional animal abuse into what they feel are unethical tactics of training such as declawing for cats and shock-training for dogs. Many people who consider themselves animal-lovers are sometimes upset by the “radical” stances of this organization, and it is true that PETA has some very controversial ideas about the treatment of animals but their passion animal is clear. Most of this controversy stems from PETA’s feelings towards euthanasia.
The organization’s official position is, “Dogs, cats, and other companion animals need much more than food, water, and a cage or pen. They also need lots of loving care, regular and sustained companionship, respect for their individuality, and the opportunity to run and play. As difficult as it may be for us to accept, euthanasia (when carried out by veterinarians or trained animal shelter professionals with a painless intravenous injection of sodium pentobarbital) is often the most compassionate and dignified way for unwanted animals to leave a world that has no place for them.”
This is a painful truth, but most “no-kill” shelters keep their animals in deplorable conditions that simply extend the suffering of these animals instead of providing an “ethical” alternative to euthanasia. As an animal lover myself, it pains me to think about all of the animals abused and abandoned by their supposed human companions. An animal needs attention, love, and care, not the neglect and imprisonment that they face in no-kill” shelters. The upsetting piece of PETA’s euthanasia policy that they seem to keep under wraps, though, is the sheer number of animals that they put down. According to the bluntly named site “PETA Kills Animals”, as much as 97% of the animals PETA takes in are given a lethal injection. This is more than excessive, and for an organization that claims its undying support for animal rights, I find these numbers highly disturbing. This being said though, I’m not sure that many of these “no-kill” shelters are all that much better. An article on Al.com states that a non-euthanizing shelter in North Carolina called “The Haven” was raided just a year ago by the ASPCA and yielded over 600 animals living in conditions worse than they would find out on the streets. Obviously, this is not a viable option when it comes to sheltering homeless animals. At the moment, there really are very few ‘good’ ways to handle the masses of animals abandoned and taken from abusive homes. This is an incredibly difficult situation, but truly the only ethical solution to euthanizing animals in shelters is working to limit the number of dogs and cats being bred and monitoring their adoption to insure that they are placed in families that will love their animal and never leave them to be swept into the cruel and fickle life of a homeless pet.
To find out more about PETA and their position on animal rights, visit http://www.peta.org/