Some people seemed to have lost sight of what’s important: the animals. PETA supporters certainly have. PETA has released a statement after being taken to task for sending Shelby County, Kentucky, shelter officials a basket of very expensive vegan cookies to thank them—and encourage them—after they announced they would killing animals again after four years as a No Kill shelter. In the statement, PETA says they did so after receiving a news report that the population of animals in the Shelby County shelter was high and that if it continued, the health of the animals would be put in jeopardy. They claim Shelby had to double animals in cages and that this was unacceptable. They call No Kill advocates and No Kill shelters “unrealistic disservice groups,” “hell holes” and “slow-kill hoarders.” They further claim that No Kill advocates are bullies. Giddy at the thought of not having to reexamine the misplaced faith they have in PETA, their supporters are already circulating the statement they believe shows PETA is blameless. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Since it appears that PETA supporters—desperate to maintain their support of PETA on which their identity is based—love animals so little that they are not willing to spend the two minutes required to critically assess the PETA statement, I’ll do it for them. PETA’s statement is notable for seven primary reasons:
1. PETA does not deny that Shelby County has been No Kill for four years, despite claiming for years that No Kill is impossible.
2. PETA does not deny that Shelby County also puts the lie to their claim that so-called “open admission” shelters cannot be No Kill. Shelby’s motto is “Our door is always open.” Yet, they finished 2011 with tops in the nation save rates: 98.5% for cats and 94.5% for dogs.
3. PETA claims that the shelter was crowded, which could lead to unsanitary conditions, possibly further leading to animals getting sick and thus (if, like PETA, the shelter refuses to provide medical care) being killed. In short, PETA is arguing that in order to prevent animals from being killed, we should kill them, an inherent contradiction. If PETA was worried about crowding, and they were genuinely concerned that this would lead to unsanitary conditions, the answer is not to cause the very thing—and the worst thing—that could possibly result from such conditions. The solution to “crowding” or fears of unsanitary conditions is not to kill those who are at risk, it is to do what is necessary to change those conditions. It is to get the animals out: by adoption, foster care, and transfer to rescue groups, exactly what Shelby County officials did after ignoring PETA’s advice.
4. PETA’s claim that No Kill shelters are “hellholes” and “slow-kill hoarders” cannot be squared with the dozens of successful No Kill communities, of which three are highlighted in this video:
5. PETA claims that Shelby County was forced to double up animals in cages and this is unacceptable. Says who? This is one of the most enduring, deadly and baseless of the traditional sheltering dogmas used to rationalize killing. If animals need to be doubled up in a cage so that no one dies, that is what ethics compel. And no one outside the sheltering profession would ever think, for a moment, that that wasn’t the proper thing to do to save an animal’s life. In fact, even if half the shelter was empty, it should double up animals. They are social creatures and benefit from the presence of a friend.
Close your eyes and imagine you are a shelter director. All your cages and kennels are full, and it is your job to pick which animals because PETA is telling you that kittens cannot share a cage or two dogs who get along with each other shouldn’t be cohoused. You enter the cat room and look around. Will you kill that black cat over there? How about that little orange tabby? Or what about that kitten making such a racket, sticking his paw outside the cage, begging for some attention? Yes, that little kitten has got to go. You instruct an employee to take him to the kill room, he gets excited thinking he is going to play. But this is what will happen to him instead, as described in a local newspaper,
A kitten with a hand gripping the scruff of [his] neck and a needle in [his] belly will squeal in terror, but once you’ve pulled out the needle and placed [him] back into a cage… [he] will shake [his]head and start to get on with [his] kittenish business. Then [he] starts to look woozy, and begins to stumble around. [He] licks [his] lips, tasting the chemical absorbed into [his] system. Soon, [he] becomes too sedated to stand. The animal collapses, and when [his] lungs become too sedated to inflate, [he] stops breathing.
Then it is on to the dog kennels. Who will die today? Will it be the little Jack Russell jumping up and down excitedly, hoping you might take him for a walk? What about that quiet, shy chocolate lab lying on his bed? Yes, how about him? And, again, you instruct a staff member to lead him to the kill room, and then clean that cage so it is ready for a dog that may or may not arrive. The dog looks up at you, shyly at first, but once the leash is on, he starts to walk with more confidence. He meets your eye and for the first time since he arrived, he looks, well, happy. He’s going for a walk. He’s going home. Of course, neither is true. Instead, you take him into a room, a room filled with the smell of antiseptic. If it is a regressive shelter, he’ll see the other dead dogs and start to panic and resist. But you’ll hold him down, or you’ll put a catch pole around his neck and drag him into the room. Either way, he’s going to die. You ordered him killed even though he could have shared a kennel with another dog, but which PETA tells you is unacceptable. Perhaps someone’s heart would have broken seeing how sad he looked, and chosen to adopt him, but, again, it’s too late for him now. He’s already dead, his body in the freezer, stacked on top of the large pile of dead dogs that were killed to make room for other dogs over the last few days, including the one that was killed to make room for him.
6. After four years as a No Kill shelter, with no public complaints of unsanitary conditions, Shelby got jammed. All shelters—kill shelters and No Kill shelters—do during periods of peak intakes. The difference? The latter don’t use that as an excuse to take the convenient, reactionary and violent way out: by killing. They use it to double their own efforts and seek the help of others. Rather than reach out to Shelby and ask what they could do to help them so that they do not throw in the towel on four successive No Kill years, PETA sent them an expensive basket of cookies with a note encouraging them to just go ahead and kill the animals despite $32,000,000+ in annual revenues and millions of self-proclaimed “animal loving” members. Shelby needed to place only 100 animals—if PETA truly loved animals, they could have found them all homes in Just One Day.
7. Another group, operating on a fraction of PETA’s budget (which they make up for in the unending amount of love they have for animals which PETA lacks) reached out also. But they did not bring cookies. They brought foster parents, adopters, and rescue groups. And all the animals PETA was granting Shelby County absolution to kill—claimed Shelby County had no choice but to kill—have instead been saved:
What does this prove? It proves No Kill works. It proves open admission shelters can be No Kill. It proves that killing is not a “last resort” for PETA, but the first and only one. It proves they were wrong because the animals did not need to be killed for the simple reason that they weren’t: they were adopted, placed in foster care, and transferred to rescue groups, a glaring omission from PETA’s statement. And it proves that PETA is not motivated by doing right by animals. Instead, it remains motivated by what all political death cults are motivated by—remaining subservient to their charismatic founder’s dark and disturbing impulses. It also proves that PETA supporters who are circulating this statement on behalf of PETA value animals so little they are willing to grant people absolution to kill animals for the most capricious of reasons; and—side by side with PETA—to defend a cruel, antiquated and barbaric animal “sheltering” system that has no place in a truly humane society.
As to No Kill advocates being bullies—another baseless accusation. We are exercising our constitutional rights through legal, democratic means. We are not threatening anyone. We are not throwing pies in anyone’s faces. We are peacefully, without compromise, standing up for those who cannot speak for themselves and do not want to die. To PETA, those who advocate adoption instead of killing are bullies; those who advocate transporting animals to rescue groups instead of the morgue are bullies; those who believe that when a shelter needs help, you give that help in a life-affirming way, rather than in the form of cookies and encouragement to poison animals with an overdose of barbiturates, are bullies.
To add irony to insult to injury, everywhere there are local animal lovers calling for reform of abusive shelters and trying to help shelters maintain No Kill, PETA is also there, fighting the effort: calling for all Pit Bulls to be banned, asking shelters to stop adopting them out, encouraging people to round up and kill—rather than neuter and feed—feral cats, and opposing legislative efforts to reform neglectful and abusive shelters. We champion life. They champion death. And they are willing to use their $32,000,000+ to force that view onto others. They are the bullies. And because the only way to stop a bully is to stand up to them, that is what we will continue to do.
The fight is on. And we intend to stop this evil.
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