The Theft & Killing of Maya

January 9, 2015 by  

Maya (2)

On October 18, 2014, in Parksley, VA, PETA stole Maya, a happy and healthy dog, from her porch while her family was out. They killed her that very day.

According to a spokesman for Maya’s family, PETA came to the trailer park where the family lives, where most of the residents are Spanish speaking with few resources. The PETA representatives befriended the residents. They got to know who lived where and who had dogs. In fact, they sat with the family on the same porch off which they later took Maya. Waiting until the family was away from the home, PETA employees backed their van up to the porch and threw biscuits to Maya, in an attempt to coax her off her property and therefore give PETA the ability to claim she was a stray dog “at large.” But Maya refused to stay off the porch and ran back. Thinking that no one was around, one of the employees—who was later charged with larceny—went onto the property and took Maya.

When the family returned and found their beloved Maya missing, they searched around the neighborhood before checking the video on the surveillance camera. That is when they saw the PETA van on the film and recognized the woman who had come to their house on prior occasions to talk to them about Maya. They called PETA and asked for Maya’s return. According to a family spokesperson, PETA claimed it did not have the dog. When PETA was told that its employees had been filmed taking the dog, they hung up. Shortly afterward, a PETA attorney called and informed the family that Maya was dead. PETA had killed her. She may not be the only one. On the day they stole Maya, other animals went missing as well. Had a surveillance video not been available, the killing of Maya would have remained unknown, as are the fates of the other animals.


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No Kill Advocacy Center Seeks to Stop PETA Killing

December 12, 2014 by  

Over 30,000 animals, including a dog stolen from her home, have been killed

Maya (2)

In the wake of the recent arrest of two employees of People for the Ethical treatment of Animals (PETA) who stole and killed Maya, a nine-year-old girl’s Chihuahua, the No Kill Advocacy Center (NKAC) has filed a petition asking the Virginia State Veterinarian to revoke PETA’s status as an animal shelter in order to eliminate PETA’s ability to kill animals.

Maya’s theft was not the first time that PETA employees have been arrested over their taking and killing of animals. In a 2007 criminal trial against two other PETA employees in North Carolina, jurors heard testimony from individuals that they turned over animals to PETA after PETA promised to find the animals homes only to learn that PETA killed the animals, in some cases within minutes of taking them, in the back of a PETA van stocked with syringes and lethal doses of sodium pentobarbital. This is not the first time PETA has been accused of taking animals from people under false pretenses and putting the animals to death, thus suggesting that the taking and killing of Maya cannot be dismissed as the action of rogue employees. PETA is using its designation as an animal shelter to deceive the public and acquire animals for the purpose of killing them. It is also using that designation to acquire the controlled pharmaceutical substances used to kill those animals.

NKAC’s petition states that “PETA’s actions potentially violate several state statutes and regulations, including Virginia laws against larceny, mandated holding periods, and VDACS regulations governing euthanasia of animals at animal shelters.”

Since 1998, PETA has killed over 30,000 animals, roughly 2,000 animals a year including kittens and puppies. Like Maya, many of these animals were healthy, but nonetheless PETA killed them without making any attempt to find the animals homes first. Revoking PETA’s status as a shelter would bring such senseless killing to an end and be an important step in protecting the pets, often cherished family members, of the people of Norfolk and surrounding communities.

To read about the theft and killing:


For a copy of the NKAC’s petition:


For a copy of a surveillance video showing PETA employees stealing Maya:


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Does PETA Kill Healthy Puppies & Kittens? “Absolutely”

November 9, 2014 by  

On November 6 at the University of Virginia School of Law, I debated PETA’s attorney on the issue: “The Kill Versus No Kill Debate: Which Animal Shelters Are Most Humane?” I argued for a guaranteed right to life for companion animals entering shelters. PETA argued that animals were better off dead. In the interests of full disclosure, I agreed to have the debate videotaped or audiotaped and to make it available to everyone so people could hear for themselves what each side believed and where each side stood on the issue in their own words. PETA refused.


As such, over the next several weeks, I am going to post on the fundamental disagreement between PETA, on the one hand, and on the other, myself and what I believe to be the true No Kill and animal rights position.


Yesterday, I posted about their call for the mass extermination of pit bulls in shelters. Today, I address PETA’s claim that “no shelter wants to euthanize animals” (including PETA itself, which kills roughly 2,000 animals per year).



Today, an animal entering a shelter in this country has a one in two chance of being killed and in some communities it is as high as 99%, with millions of animals—the vast majority of whom are healthy or treatable—losing their lives every year. The reason for this statistic is as shocking as the statistic itself. In the typical American animal shelter, animals are being killed for two primary reasons: habit and convenience.

They are killed when there are empty cages, within minutes of being walked in the door, without ever being offered for adoption, despite rescue groups ready, willing and able to save them, and despite a whole host of programs and services that would provide those shelters alternatives to killing if only shelters would implement them. Hundreds of American communities with shelters which have embraced these alternatives to killing are now saving between 90% and 99% of the animals proving how unnecessary the killing is and how false the historical excuses used to justify that killing are. Unfortunately, most shelters in this country refuse to follow their lead. Why? Because killing is easy, killing is convenient, and killing has become the default. So why bother with the hard work of implementing alternatives?

To PETA, this is as it should be.

They defend abuse in shelters as long as those shelters are “kill” shelters. They have fought legislation that would have banned convenience killing (when there are empty cages or when qualified rescue groups are willing to save them). They fight efforts to legalize TNR in lieu of killing for community cats. They have told shelters not to foster animals or to work with rescue groups, but to kill those animals instead. And PETA does not just defend the killing that others do, they kill animals themselves.

PETA kills roughly 95% of the thousands of animals they take in and seek out every year while adopting out a paltry 1%, despite revenues of over 30 million dollars a year and millions of animal-loving members. They have killed 29,426 animals in the last 11 years, including healthy puppies like these…

dead puppies_0001

And this one…

dead dog

When PETA representatives have been questioned about this killing, they’ve argued that all of the animals they kill are “unadoptable.” But this claim is a lie for numerous reasons.

Groups and individuals have come forward stating that the animals they gave PETA were healthy and adoptable, including this mother cat and kittens…


PETA insiders have admitted they kill healthy animals. As the spay/neuter van goes out in the morning to sterilize animals, one of its jobs historically has been to pick up puppies and kittens and other healthy animals people surrender to PETA on the way back at the end of the day and then deliver them to this little outbuilding in the parking lot of PETA’s headquarters.


That building serves only one purpose: to kill animals. They are taken out of the vans and immediately put to death, their bodies stored in the giant walk-in freezer PETA installed for this very purpose. It is a freezer that cost $9,370 and, like the company which incinerates the bodies of PETA’s victims—Pet Cremation Services of Tidewater—was paid for with the donations of animal lovers who could never have imagined that the money they donated to help animals would be used to end their lives instead.

Moreover, PETA staff have described the animals they’ve killed as “perfect” and “adorable.” And PETA founder Ingrid Newkirk herself admitted they kill healthy and treatable animals: when asked whether or not PETA kills “adoptable” animals, she didn’t hesitate, stating, “Absolutely.”


Of course, she qualifies it by saying it is only done “when we can’t find them a home” but then she admits to another reporter that they don’t even try to find homes, telling the Virginian-Pilot,

“We are not in the home finding business, although it is certainly true that we do find homes from time to time… Our service is to provide a peaceful and painless death to animals no one wants.”

Which begs the question: how can people want animals if PETA does not advertise them, fails to make them available for adoption, and kills them right away?


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PETA: Kill the Victims

November 8, 2014 by  

On November 6 at the University of Virginia School of Law, I debated PETA’s attorney on the issue: “The Kill Versus No Kill Debate: Which Animal Shelters Are Most Humane?” I argued for a guaranteed right to life for companion animals entering shelters. PETA argued that animals were better off dead. In the interests of full disclosure, I agreed to have the debate videotaped or audiotaped and to make it available to everyone so people could hear for themselves what each side believed and where each side stood on the issue in their own words. PETA refused.

As such, over the next several weeks, I am going to post on the fundamental disagreement between PETA, on the one hand, and on the other, myself and what I believe to be the true No Kill and animal rights position.

First up: pit bulls.

“Most people have no idea that at many animal shelters across the country, any pit bull that comes through the front door doesn’t go out the back door alive. From San Jose to Schenectady, many shelters have enacted policies requiring the automatic destruction of the huge and ever-growing number of ‘pits’ they encounter. This news shocks and outrages the compassionate dog-lover. Here’s another shocker: People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, the very organization that is trying to get you to denounce the killing of chickens for the table, foxes for fur or frogs for dissection, supports the shelters’ pit-bull policy… People who genuinely care about dogs won’t be affected by a ban on pits.”

That is what PETA founder Ingrid Newkirk once wrote in an OpEd piece that appeared in newspapers across the country. More recently, PETA sent a letter to the Mayor of Williamson County, TN, telling him not to work with rescuers, not to foster sick animals, and to kill every pit bull in the shelter: “PETA also recommends a ban on the adoption/release of dangerous dogs and fighting breeds (commonly known as ‘pit bulls’).”

There is no dog in America more maligned and misrepresented than those classified by shelters as a “pit bull.” There are no shelter dogs more in need of the humane movement’s compassion, in need of a call to arms on their behalf, and in need of what should be the full force of a shelter’s sanctuary and protection. Many shelters and animal protection organizations, however, have determined that these dogs are not worthy of their help. And no one has been more emphatic and unapologetic than Ingrid Newkirk and PETA in promoting this unfair and deadly double standard—along with the idea that that those who care about animals needn’t concern themselves with the fate of these particular dogs. Moreover, recent research shows that shelters misidentify breeds as much as 75 percent of the time. And as used by shelters, law enforcement agencies and even courts, “Pit Bull” is not a breed of dog. It is, according to a leading advocacy organization, “a catch-all term used to describe a continually expanding incoherent group of dogs, including pure-bred dogs and mixed-breed dogs. A ‘Pit Bull’ is any dog an animal control officer, shelter worker, dog trainer, politician, dog owner, police officer, newspaper reporter or anyone else says is a ‘Pit Bull.’” When it comes to dogs we call “pit bulls,” shelters are not only unnecessarily killing them based on meaningless stereotypes, they are killing dogs they mistakenly think fit those stereotypes by the way they look.

PETA’s answer, however, is to  continue killing the victim, as they tried to do when they stated that the dogs abused by Michael Vick should be put to death. Thankfully, the court declined. Instead of being overdosed with barbiturates, put into garbage bags, and then sent to rot in a landfill as PETA suggested, they were given the chance to:

Play with toys


Experience love


Get a warm embrace


Get showered with kindness


Receive affection


 Feel safe


 Experience joy


In short, the happy endings PETA did not want them to have.




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Protests Welcome!

February 4, 2014 by  


As many of you know, I used to volunteer with PETA. As a young vegan living in the Northeast, one night each week, I would stuff envelopes and put packets together for them. I loved animals. And therefore, I loved PETA. Today, I still love animals. In fact I’ve dedicated my life to saving them. Which is why—as a former shelter director, the head of a national organization focused on ending the systematic killing of animals in shelters, and the author of a book on PETA—I’ve come to be one of their fiercest critics.

It started when I was still a volunteer. One day, my roommate, a former PETA employee, found a dog in need of a home. We called him Ray. As volunteers, I asked her why we didn’t just take Ray—a young, happy, healthy dog—to PETA. Surely, PETA, with its millions of dollars and millions of animal loving members, would find him a home. But she said “No,” because PETA would just kill him. Spit take!

That is when I did what anyone who truly loves animals would have done, I walked away from them. I’ve since come to learn that they kill over 90% of the animals they take it in, including healthy puppies and kittens, that they have called for the killing of all “pit bulls” in shelters, that they advocate the round up and killing of healthy community cats, oppose shelter reform, do not advocate right to life for animals, and kill animals after promising to find them homes. I love animals, including dogs and cats, so I cannot support an organization dedicated to killing them based on the belief that “pets” are “slaves,” that life is suffering, that animals are better off dead and therefore to kill them is a “gift,” as PETA founder and President Ingrid Newkirk believes. My article discussing their anti-animal views and actions in in the Huffington Post has over a quarter of a million Facebook “likes,” 90,000 shares, and one million page views.

Working to expose the disturbing truth about what PETA really is, I am frequently the subject of character assassination by PETA supporters and many of the people who like my Facebook page have told me they have heard from some of them, especially “Mary” and “Julie,” both of who not only deliberately lie about who I am and what I believe, but are part of a larger group of No Kill opponents intent on tearing me down, including those who have threatened to kill my dog and “behead” me for the “crime” of advocating right to life for animals in shelters. (“Julie” in fact wrote an article called “Nathan Winograd Should Be Beheaded.”) Now, “Julie” and her acolytes are threatening to protest at the Minneapolis screening of Redemption, a film based on my book of the same name about the No Kill revolution in America. The first ever screening in Minneapolis will be a red carpet event, includes an after party with some of the people who appear in the film, and is open to the public.

I actually welcome the protest and here’s why.

When people see them protesting and then see the film, the disconnect between what the PETA supporters claim and what I advocate will be obvious. The film is an inspirational, uplifting portrayal of what we can accomplish when we reject killing and implement common sense alternatives, about the tremendous lifesaving change that follows when shelters believe in the community and trust in the power of compassion. It is above love, which is why I am screening it nationwide as part of my 2014 “No Kill is Love” tour. Everyone who sees it will instantly dismiss the protesters and see them for who they really are and what they really stand for. How do I know? Because past is prologue. Here are just three examples. A shelter director who heard horrible things about me and my approach (similar to the kinds of lies Julie uses to defend killing) came to hear me speak. Afterward, she sent me this email:

I spent four years working at a humane society… I was a caregiver and euthanasia technician. Sixty-four animals have died at the end of my needle. When I was killing animals, I stepped outside of myself and was a different person. I held it together all but one time.


While killing a mother and her five two-day old children, I broke down. At the time I did not know what set me off. I had always been in control of my emotions and remained focused. Now I can look back and realize I lost it because I let myself feel what I was doing.


Until hearing you speak, I never blamed myself for what I did. I played it off as doing what my manager had told me to do and it was how I played my part in animal welfare. I believed that these animals martyred themselves for the movement. That their deaths were not in vain because it would… lead to the end of suffering. How very wrong I was…


As a shelter director now, did some of your comments piss me off? Absolutely… But I got what you were saying… I want to believe I am this progressive person, but my life’s passion was based on an old model that did nothing but fail.


Will I ever go back to being the person I was at [my old humane society]? No, I just cannot.


I want to let you know you opened me up to a new train of thought. One I am dedicated to sharing with my community.


Thank you.

The second email came from a new shelter director who recently took over a troubled municipal kill shelter in California and attended a conference put on by a group of regressive shelter directors that run killing shelters and have historically viewed the No Kill movement as both a threat to their hegemony and the status quo they ardently defend. A speaker they hired called me a “terrorist” and urged shelter directors to be on guard because I was “everywhere.” This shelter director subsequently heard I was giving a seminar near her community and came to hear me speak in order to learn about her “enemy” and prepare herself. She sat in the back row so she could sneak out if things got uncomfortable. Instead of sneaking out, she called me afterward to say that far from being uncomfortable, she was riveted by my message and wanted to make No Kill happen in her own community. We’ve been communicating ever since, her shelter has since seen significant drops in killing utilizing the approach I advocate, and she now wants to host a screening of Redemption in her city.

And, finally, after a presentation in Toronto, I received this email:

Recently I attended your appearance in Toronto. I’ll be honest I went because my friend, a fellow rescuer and shelter worker, made me. Before that I was offended by the statement you made about pet overpopulation being a myth. If people protested you in Toronto I would have been there.


Unlike the OSPCA and under the pressure of my friend I felt that if you had any useful information that could help with saving animals I should attend. I was blown away. I owe you an apology. You are right and I feel like fool for buying into the idea that we can’t save all these animals. I never supported killing shelter animals, but I never saw the fault in the way shelters are run.


Thank you for coming to Toronto. I picked up a copy of Redemption and it’s a book I can’t put down.

Whenever PETA or its devotees attack me by name, the number of followers on my Facebook page spikes. In fact, it has grown by over 15,000 people in just the last few weeks as “Julie” has been emailing rescuers all over the country asking them not to see the film. Instead, these people read what I have to say and the majority agree with me for the simple reason that most people love animals and will not abide their needless slaughter as the PETA supporters do because the PETA supporters, in fact, don’t love animals.* Instead, they love PETA and the identity (and in some cases, the paycheck) it gives them. Their protests show their true colors—a blind, out of touch, misanthropic and cultish devotion to killing—which further drives people into the arms of the No Kill movement. Every time they attack me, the forces in favor of killing animals weaken and the No Kill movement gets stronger.

In short, protesters welcome.


In truth, they do not. Killing is not an act of kindness. It is not an act of love. It is an act of violence. And those that perpetuate it, promote it or defend it do not love animals because there is no way to twist and torture the word “love” to encompass poisoning or gassing animals to death.


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A Dog is a Boy

October 15, 2013 by  

Pit Bull resting

Photo: A dog, rightly or wrongly, labeled a “pit bull.” These dogs have no rights, according to Ingrid Newkirk and PETA. Not only can they be killed, Newkirk proclaims, they should be killed.

“A rat is a pig is a dog is a boy.” Like no other, this pronouncement by Ingrid Newkirk, the founder of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), appeared to lay down the gauntlet, an inviolate line in the sand that animals deserve the kinds of legal rights we recognize for people. In other words, if you would not eat a boy, you should not eat a pig. If you would not poison a boy, you should not poison a rat. If you would not abuse a boy, you should not abuse a dog.

Now, science has vindicated Newkirk’s pronouncement, at least as it relates to dogs. In “Dogs Are People, Too” from the New York Times, Dr. Gregory Berns writes, “The ability to experience positive emotions, like love and attachment would mean that dogs have a level of sentience comparable to that of a human child.” So if a dog is a boy, as Newkirk says and science proves, why is it wrong to kill a boy, but according to PETA, not wrong to kill a dog?

Indeed, PETA has killed healthy and treatable dogs, defends the killing of healthy and treatable dogs, and has pursued policies that increase the number of healthy and treatable dogs killed by others. Roughly nine out of 10 dogs who enter PETA’s facility go out the back door in garbage bags. Why the hypocrisy? In my latest Huffington Post article, I explore why.

Read “A Dog is a Boy, Except When PETA Kills Him” by clicking here.

Please note: This is not a criticism against legal rights for dogs. To the contrary, I agree with Dr. Berns on this issue and he vindicates Newkirk’s pronouncement that a “dog is a boy” deserving of legal rights given the neuroscientific evidence of sentience. It is a criticism with Newkirk’s hypocritical view that dogs have rights only until they enter animal shelters or PETA headquarters and then they no longer do (i.e., they can be killed with impunity). In other words, it is a criticism that the most basic right which every human being cherishes above all others and without which no other rights can be guaranteed—the right to life—is not, as it should be, ground zero in the struggle for animal rights, but rather a fundamental principle which many “animal rights activists” carelessly, casually, and cruelly disregard. In fact, many individuals and groups that self-identify (falsely, it turns out) as “animal rights” do not actually believe in the rights of animals and that includes Newkirk, PETA, and their supporters.


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PETA Can’t Go ‘Just One Day’ Without Promoting Killing

June 14, 2013 by  

Condemns effort that saved as many as 10,000 shelters animals.


Adopted during a Just One Day event at a North Carolina shelter; PETA wanted her dead.

Just One Day is a nationwide campaign which occurs every year on June 11. The No Kill Advocacy Center and Animal Ark asked shelters nationwide to explore and experiment with alternatives to killing that have already proven so successful in those communities which have implemented them so that they, too, can end the killing of the healthy and treatable animals in their care by finding them loving, new homes instead. This year, roughly 1,200 organizations, including some of the largest animal control shelters in the nation, answered the call to participate. They put down their “euthanasia needles” and picked up cameras instead: to photograph and market animals. They reached out to rescue groups, hosted adoption events, stayed open for extended hours, and asked their communities to help them empty the shelter the good way. Last year, this effort resulted in roughly 9,000 adoptions nationwide on June 11, erasing one day’s worth of killing. This year, we hoped to save over 10,000 lives. And by all indications, we did.

In Escambia County, Florida, they had their best adoption day ever. In Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, 76 animals found a home. In San Antonio, Texas, 117 animals were placed. Similar stories occurred in shelters across the country, including shelters with historically high rates of killing and low numbers of adoptions. This is what the dog kennels looked like in Boone County, Kentucky, at the end of the day:


The number of groups participating and the number of animals finding homes was truly inspiring and showed what could be accomplished when groups come together, united by the common goal of saving lives, and laser-focus on that achievement. June 11, 2013, was a good day, a happy day, an important day, and an unqualified success: perhaps the safest day for animals in shelters in U.S. history. Thousands of animals were adopted, 1,200 shelters and rescue groups came together, adopters welcomed a new family member, the incinerators remained shuttered and the morgues stayed empty. We erased more than one day’s worth of killing in the U.S. So who could possibly oppose the effort that made it possible?


Continuing its long and sordid tradition of undermining the movement to end shelter killing, PETA–an organization which itself kills over 90 percent of the animals they take in, which has killed puppies and kittens after they promised to find them homes, which defends even abusive shelters, which fights efforts to reform killing policies, and which has called for the wholesale round up and killing of animals, including healthy ones–posted an editorial against the Just One Day campaign calling it “smoke and mirrors” and telling those who supported the effort that saved an estimated 10,000 lives to “wake up” because they were being “duped.”

While Just One Day was designed to teach participating shelters how to use innovative programs to find loving, new homes for their animals in lieu of killing, PETA wrote that shelters should be “left alone” and that the animals should be killed rather than adopted; or as PETA euphemistically calls it, “a painless exit from an uncaring world.” And although the campaign is a joint effort by the No Kill Advocacy Center, a national animal protection organization, and Animal Ark, the oldest No Kill shelter in Minnesota, PETA disingenuously implied to their membership that the Just One Day campaign and the sponsoring organizations are a front for breeders and puppy millers–“Who is behind this initiative?,” PETA asks, “Is it breeders? People who receive money from breeders?”–though how breeders would benefit from increased shelter adoptions is a non-sequitur they don’t even attempt to explain. Indeed, every animal adopted from a shelter means fewer people buying commercially bred animals, not more.

They also nonsensically ask if it is ok to “put down the needle” for animals who are sick, inured, elderly, aggressive, feral or otherwise unsocialized. They ask if it is ok to dump animals along the highways, and they ask if it is ok to crowd dogs and cats together so they get sick. Of course, none of these issues has anything to do with an adoption campaign designed to save 10,000 lives and everything to do with trying to obscure a black and white issue with extraneous, disingenuous, unrelated implications and accusations. For the sake of argument, however, let’s answer their unrelated questions: As for overcrowding, 1,200 organizations started June 12 emptier and in many cases, entirely empty as a result of their adoption campaigns of the previous day, the opposite of overcrowding; while Just One Day was about adopting animals into homes, not dumping them along the side of an interstate.


Cat kennels at Roanoke, Virginia’s animal control shelter at the end of the Just One Day adoption drive. 

Perhaps more importantly, though, the answer to their first question is actually, “Yes.” It is ok to put down the needle for animals who have special needs because in as little as one percent of cases are the animals who enter our nation’s shelters so irremediably suffering and near inevitable, pending death that their killing actually qualifies as true euthanasia. The other 99%, including the old, the infirm, the feral and the unsocialized, don’t “need” death, they need individualized care. Sick animals need medicine, not an overdose of “fatal-plus,” the poison used to kill animals in shelters. Elderly animals need TLC and a warm lap, not the gas chamber. Feral cats need neuter and release, not incineration. And others need rehabilitative care until they are well enough and well behaved enough for a loving, new home. That is what shelters in the true sense of the word should be. And that is what progressive shelters are already doing.

But what is good news for people who truly care about animals is bad news for PETA, an organization whose employees and volunteers are schooled in and instructed to act upon the perverse idea that animals want to die. For three out of four Americans who believe shelters should not be permitted to kill healthy and treatable animals, proof that adoption can replace killing is cause for rejoicing. For PETA, it is cause for alarm: one more blow to the traditional “catch and kill” sheltering dogma that they have historically used as a shield to avoid accountability. Without the safety afforded in numbers by a nation full of shelters likewise slaughtering healthy and treatable animals, the perversity of PETA’s own killing, including that of puppies and kittens, becomes even more abhorrent and less difficult to explain to an increasingly informed and savvy public that is growing less and less reconciled to the killing. And so they fight any effort to reform shelters, including condemning what to anyone who truly cares about animals can only regard as a good thing: an inspiring, heartwarming, successful campaign to save the lives of 10,000 animals and introduce thousands of Americans to the animals who will become cherished members of their family.

Instead of listening to PETA, true animal lovers should celebrate as thousands of animals walked out of the shelter and into the loving arms of adopters–for Just One Day and beyond; Like this little dog, adopted on June 11 in Louisiana at a participating shelter, who danced his way into a loving, new home and the brighter future that only PETA would deny him:


Learn more:

In Just One Day We Saved Thousands of Animals

PETA’s Secret Slaughter of Kittens, Puppies

We Can Do It! Adopt Your Way Out of Killing


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PETA Rattles Its Sabers

May 26, 2013 by  

Ahoski police departmetn Det. Sght jerremy roberts holds a dead dog retrieved from a dumpster, in Ahoski, NC, wastewater treatment plant. Wednesday, June 15, 2005. (AP Photo/Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Cal Bryant)

A police detective in hazmat suit prepares to bury a puppy killed by PETA. PETA is letting loose upon the world individuals who not only maniacally believe that killing is a good thing and that the living want to die, but who are legally armed with lethal drugs which they have already proven—29,426 times in the last 11 years—that they are not adverse to using. (Photo © A.P. All rights reserved.)

PETA has filed a petition in NY Superior Court demanding that the Huffington Post release names of anonymous commenters to an article I wrote about their killing, an article that has already received nearly a quarter of a million “likes,” has been shared roughly 85,000 times and has generated 5,000 comments.

I believe the purpose is to intimidate critics into silence. This is not the first time PETA has tried to do so. Many animal lovers who have publicly condemned PETA for their killing have received a letter from the PETA legal department. However, because a lawsuit would, among other things, allow for: subpoenas of PETA employees past and present; information as to where the PETA mobile van picked up animals, who it picked them up from, what they were told, who put them to death, when they were put to death, and where the bodies were discarded; the names of people and groups they’ve acquired animals from and what was said or not said to them; as well as records for all animals taken in and killed; and because a lawsuit would open PETA up to a counterclaim for chilling speech—a Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation designed to silence, intimidate, or punish those who use public forums to right some wrong—I believe it is unlikely that PETA would ever follow-through with these threats.

Their donor-funded attorneys rattle their sabers, but they know they have a lot more to fear from the public disclosure that would result from a lawsuit than the animal activists who are—given PETA’s threats and intimidation—bravely reporting on PETA’s killing in the hope of bringing it to an end. When you donate to PETA, you not only fund the killing of animals, you fund the intimidation of animal lovers.

To read the Huffington Post article, click here.


To read the NY Post article, click here.


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Shelter Killing Benefits Puppy Mills

May 14, 2013 by  

Closing down puppy mills_Layout 1_0001

The myth of pet overpopulation is the lie at the heart of shelter killing in America. It is the excuse that every shelter director who kills animals uses to rationalize that killing as a necessity, in spite of the fact that it is unsupported by both the data and the experiences of those communities that have achieved what was once regarded as impossible: an end to their killing of animals. And yet as self-evident as this truth is to me today, there was a time when I, too, believed in pet overpopulation and would have been both stunned and confused to learn that I would someday argue against its existence. Indeed, it is not as though I woke up one day and thought “Hey, I think pet overpopulation is a myth!” Nor did I think that someday I would champion the notion that it was. I did not even set out to prove it. It unfolded as part of my journey in the humane movement and the facts began to compel further analysis. In fact, at one time, I too drank of the pet overpopulation Kool Aid. The dedication of my book, Redemption, says it all:

To my wife, Jennifer. Who believed long before I did.

Once, on a date before we were married, we debated the issue. I insisted that, “There were too many animals and not enough homes” and asked her, “What were shelters supposed to do with them?” She correctly argued that even if it were true, killing animals was still unethical and that as animal activists, it was our job to find alternatives, not to blindly accept that the killing was a fait accompli about which we could do nothing to change. She argued that if we took killing off the table, human ingenuity and human compassion would find a way to make it work. But, more importantly, she asked me how I knew it was true that pet overpopulation was real and that killing animals was therefore inevitable.

How did I know? Because I had heard it repeated a thousand times. Because I took the fact of killing in shelters and then rationalized the reason backward. But I was too embarrassed to admit so. Here I was: a Stanford Law student who wore my 4.0 department GPA, my highest honors in Political Science, my Phi Beta Kappa, and my Summa Cum Laude, as a badge of my smarts and I came face to face with my own sloppy logic and slipshod thinking about the issue. “It just is,” I said (lamely).

But therein began a journey that started in San Francisco, then Tompkins County (NY), then visiting hundreds of shelters across the country only to find animals being killed in the face of alternatives, only to find animals being killed despite empty cages, sometimes banks and banks of them. And so I began reviewing data. I reviewed statistics on animal intakes and studies on available homes. I studied the data reported by over 1,000 shelters nationwide. I reviewed the data from the states that mandate shelter reporting. And the conclusion became not just inescapable, but unassailable: pet overpopulation does not exist not only because the number of homes in America vastly exceed the number of shelter animals in need of a home; but also because my experience creating a No Kill community and now the hundreds of cities and towns which have also done so since prove it. In those communities which have ended the killing, they did so through adoptions and the vast majority did so in six months or less. In my case, it was literally overnight.

And since that time, other studies have not only proved I was right, they show I was conservative. To be sure, millions of animals are being killed in our nation’s shelters every year, and that is nothing short of a national tragedy. But they are not being killed because of the reasons we have been historically given to blame. They are not dying because of a lack of homes. They are dying because of a lack of innovation, a failure to embrace of proven methods of lifesaving. As I state at the end of Redemption, animals are dying in shelters for primarily one reason: because the people in shelters choose to kill them in the face of readily-available lifesaving alternatives.

Yet simply because I say pet overpopulation is a myth, I’m continually accused by champions of shelter killing of having nefarious intent: of being in league with puppy mills and commercial breeders. But understanding that the facts do not support the notion of pet overpopulation and saying so publicly has nothing whatsoever to do with supporting breeding or being in league with puppy or kitten mills. In fact, advocacy for animals requires that we expose the lie that is the primary excuse shelters use to kill for the same reason we should oppose puppy and kitten mills: both harm animals. Puppy mills, like poorly performing shelters, provide minimal to no veterinary care, lack of adequate food and shelter, lack of human socialization, and cause neglect, abuse, and the killing of animals when they are no longer profitable.

And that is why my organization, the No Kill Advocacy Center, has held workshops on closing down puppy mills and has supported laws banning the sale of commercially bred animals in pet stores. And it is why I believe that regardless of why animals are being killed, they are being killed, and as long as they are, it is incumbent on everyone seeking to bring an animal into their life to either rescue or adopt from a shelter. Adoption and rescue are ethical imperatives. In short, one does not have to believe in or perpetuate the lie of pet overpopulation to want to close down puppy mills. Nor does recognizing that pet overpopulation is a myth somehow grant a license to commercially or purposely breed animals. Before I ever suggested that pet overpopulation did not exist, the puppy mill industry was alive and thriving. Given the lack of concern those who operate such mills show for animals, what does it matter to them if there is pet overpopulation or not? They couldn’t care less what happens to the animals they sell. But I do. In fact, I am opposed to the commodification of animals, of having the law regard them as property to produce, buy and sell. Animals are not property; they are autonomous individuals, individuals who should be given legal rights, chief among them the right to live.

Acknowledging the truth—that both the data and experience disprove the existence of pet overpopulation—does not mean a person therefore subscribes to a whole host of anti-animal positions. Quite the opposite. It means, simply and thankfully, that we do not have to kill the animals entering our shelters under the disproven notion that there are too few homes. There are not; in fact, there are plenty. To save rather than end the lives of half of all animals who currently enter shelters only to die, we do not have to reform the 310,000,000 Americans apologists for shelter killing consider “irresponsible” and to blame for that killing. We just have to reform those who are truly at fault: the 3,000 irresponsible shelter directors who kill when they don’t have to and the four individuals running the national organizations which defend and protect them: Ingrid Newkirk of PETAWayne Pacelle of HSUSMatt Bershadker of the ASPCA and Robin Ganzert of the American Humane Association. U.S. shelters kill not only because killing is easier, but because, historically, they have enjoyed the political cover of pet overpopulation which allowed them to continue doing so, political cover that comes courtesy of the animal protection movement itself.

To save lives, shelters must begin doing a better job of competing for the market share of the abundantly available homes in America, and, just as important, they must begin keeping animals alive long enough for them to get into those homes. And when I realized this for the first time, rather than bury it, ignore it or downplay it, I did what anyone who truly loves animals would have done. I celebrated it. Why? Because it meant that we had the power to end the killing, today. And that is what I wanted to happen because I love animals.

And yet here’s the irony: the very supporters of the very groups who have made these spurious allegations against me are actually the ones who benefit puppy mills, not me. As my colleague Ryan Clinton recently wrote,

By fighting lifesaving shelter reform, PETA and other regressive animal organizations are effectively aiding and abetting the commercial breeding of animals. By arguing that all pit bulls in shelters should be killed, PETA and others are necessarily driving those who aim to adopt a pit bull to breeders who will gladly meet the demand. By killing nearly every animal that comes in its front door (and lobbying against No Kill reforms throughout the country), PETA is, in reality, aiding and abetting the continuation of the large-scale animal-production industry.

He’s right. But there’s actually more to it than that. By fighting shelter reform and both defending and promoting killing—which groups like HSUS, the ASPCA and PETA do—they discourage the adoption of shelter animals. By embracing draconian adoption policies, they drive good homes to breeders and pet stores. When they fight efforts to increase rescue partnerships, they lessen the supply of available shelter/rescue animals, again, driving people into the arms of breeders. Moreover, traditional kill shelters discourage adopters by the very fact that they kill.

Many people do not want to visit a shelter where they have to meet animals who face possible execution. This hit home for me one day when I answered the telephone at the shelter. The person who called asked me when our next offsite adoption was. After I gave her the information, I told her she should come down to the shelter because we had hundreds of animals, compared to the ten or so who would be at the offsite. Not knowing we were No Kill, she replied she could never do so and explained why: she couldn’t bear to see the hundreds of animals who might be killed if she didn’t choose them.

As No Kill advocates, we may not like the fact that people won’t face such a discomforting scenario to save a life, but that doesn’t change the fact that it is true. Kill shelters are disturbing, unsettling places to visit for those who care about animals, not to mention the fact that the more a shelter kills, the more dirty and neglectful it is likely to be, and the more hostile and poor its customer service—all driving the public away from shelters and into the arms of the commercial pet trade.

On the other hand, when we reform shelters, we not only make them safe for animal lovers to work at, but we make them safe for adopters, too. During the height of the San Francisco SPCA’s lifesaving success in the late-1990s, when we had seven offsite adoption venues every day throughout the city in addition to our main shelter, there was not a single store selling dogs left in the city. We had out-competed them and they all went out of the animal selling business. When I was running the Tompkins County SPCA, potential adopters in our community faced two main choices: they could buy a kitten at a pet store for $50 or they could adopt one from us (in the same mall) for $30.

Unlike the pet store, our adoptions included sterilization, vaccinations, a free bag of cat food, a free visit to the veterinarian of the adopter’s choice, a free identification tag, a discount at the local pet supply, free grooming, a free guide to caring for their new kitten, free behavior advice for life, a discount on their next cup of coffee, the satisfaction of knowing they saved a life, and, during Christmas, Santa would deliver the kitten to their door. The pet store eventually approached us about working together by having us do cat adoptions in their store. Instead of selling animals, they began helping us find homes for ours.

The same thing is beginning to happen in central Texas, where No Kill reform efforts in various shelters are reducing the demand for purposely bred animals, as Ryan Clinton further explains:

If more Americans adopt dogs and cats from shelters rather than acquiring them from alternative sources like pet stores and on-line sellers, demand for commercially bred animals will necessarily decline. In fact, we’ve seen this come true in Central Texas: at least one large-scale breeder gave up in the face of increased competition from progressive area animal shelters and turned over his keys to a shelter to find homes for his animals… By saving shelter pets’ lives, No Kill policies and programs eat into commercial breeders’ profits.

If we reform our shelters, this could also be the story of every American community. Widespread No Kill success in our nation’s shelters would not only save the lives of almost four million animals every year, it—combined with legislative efforts to regulate, reform, close down, and eliminate their markets—would drive a dagger to the heart of the puppy and kitten mill industries. And yet HSUS, the ASPCA and PETA fight our efforts to reform shelters.

Worse, groups like HSUS, the ASPCA, and PETA act like puppy and kitten mills themselves. True animal lovers embrace the No Kill philosophy because they want to prevent harm to animals, such as their systematic slaughter in shelters. True animal lovers also want to shut down the commercial mill trade in animals because they want to prevent harm to these animals, such as their systematic abuse. That is ethically consistent. But PETA, HSUS, the ASPCA and their defenders ignore or fight reform efforts to stop shelter neglect, abuse, and killing which is the same type of harm that animals face in large-scale, commercial breeding operations for the pet store market.

PETA claims to want to stop puppy mill abuse but will defend the exact conduct if it occurs in a shelter. HSUS claims to want to stop puppy mill abuse but will give awards to shelters that sadistically abuse animals. The ASPCA not only fights shelter reform that would eliminate some of the worst abuses of the draconian shelter system we now have, but sends animals to be killed in those shelters. Neglect is neglect, abuse is abuse, killing is killing regardless of by whose hand that neglect, abuse, and killing is done. To look the other way at one because that neglect, abuse, and killing is done by “friends,” “colleagues,” or simply because the perpetrators call themselves a “humane society” is indefensible.

In the final analysis, it is HSUS, the ASPCA, and PETA which benefit puppy and kitten mills and the commercial breeding of animals, not No Kill advocates who refuse to subscribe to the lie of pet overpopulation which enables systematic killing. It is HSUS, the ASPCA, and PETA which benefit commercial breeding when they fight efforts to reform shelters and make them safe for animal lovers to both work at and adopt from. It is HSUS, the ASPCA, and PETA who act like puppy and kitten mills when they defend abuse and killing in shelters. And by extension, the people who defend these actions by HSUS, ASPCA, and PETA also benefit puppy and kitten mills, in spite of whatever disproven dogma—such as the myth of pet overpopulation—they may cling to in order to defend such a deadly and unethical position.

For further reading:

The Lie at the Heart of the Killing

The Enemy of Your Enemy

What’s In a Name?

Ethical Consistency for True Dog Lovers

Adopting Your Way Out of Killing

Redemption: The Myth of Pet Overpopulation & The No Kill Revolution in America


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Help Stop PETA’s Killing

April 22, 2013 by  


In the last 11 years, 29,426 animals have died at PETA’s hands including those they themselves described as “healthy,” “adorable,” and “perfect.” In some cases, this includes animals they promised to find homes for, only to put them to death within minutes in the back of a van—a donor-funded mobile death squad on wheels. It includes kittens and puppies. According to Ingrid Newkirk, PETA is “not in the home finding business.” Its mission is to put animals to death. PETA has no adoption hours, it does not keep animals alive long enough to find homes, and it does no adoption promotion. You can learn more in my Huffington Post expose by clicking here. How is this legal? PETA is registered in Virginia as an animal shelter.

Since employees of “animal shelters” are the only non-veterinarians authorized by Virginia law to kill animals, removing PETA’s designation as a shelter will put the brakes on PETA killing. Click here for the petition filed with the Virginia Department of Agriculture (VDACS) on behalf of the No Kill Advocacy Center.

Help me end PETA’s mobile death vans. Help me end PETA’s ability to hire mindless “yes men” to kill animals at the whim and discretion of Ingrid Newkirk. Please take a moment to email VDACS Commissioner Matt Lohr and Animal Shelter Inspector Dr. Dan Kovich and POLITELY ask that they grant the NKAC petition to remove PETA’s designation as an animal shelter:

Commissioner Lohr:

Dr. Kovich:


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