Last year, the Commonwealth of Virginia overwhelming passed SB 1381, a law which requires shelters to be “operated for the purpose of finding permanent adoptive homes.” In other words, SB 1381 does what the public already thinks shelters do and what the dictionary says they do, even though PETA, which is located in Virginia, does not. In fact, the bill was introduced in a response to PETA—which is licensed in Virginia as a shelter—killing over 90% of the animals, with little to no effort to find them homes.

Many of the animals PETA kills are rounded up by employees. They also take stray animals to local pounds and claim they are “owner surrendered” so they can be killed on intake. Young, healthy kittens and cats have been killed, including 8 weeks old, six month old, eight month old and ten month old kittens, and young cats ranging from one to six years old. All dead at the hands of PETA. But cats and kittens aren’t the only animals rounded up and killed. PETA also stole Maya, a happy and healthy dog, from her porch while her family was out, killing her that very day. (We’ve also found out that they killed five other animals that day, including a six month old puppy.)

PETA has called dogs “worthless” and claimed that — like an old toaster — they have no value beyond the cost of replacement. They’ve claimed that stealing and killing animals is not “outrageous.” And they have called killing “a gift.”

You can find out more about PETA’s killing by clicking here.

Now, the agency tasked with enforcement — the Virginia Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services — is finalizing regulations to define “operated for the purpose of finding permanent adoptive homes.” VDACS currently licenses “private animal shelters” in Virginia with no requirement that they even try to find homes for animals. According to VDACS, a “private shelter” in Virginia can kill virtually every animal it takes in. It doesn’t have to have adoption hours, It doesn’t have to promote animals for adoptions. It doesn’t even have to allow adoptions.

PETA is no doubt hard at work to keep it that way.

The Virginia Federation of Humane Societies warns that “VDACS needs to hear that citizens want regulations which ensure that private animal shelters are indeed a safe haven for homeless animals, that animals leave those shelters alive and there are no loopholes in the regulations (such as transferring animals to another facility where the animals are killed) to allow any facility to be called a ‘private animal shelter’ but kill the majority of animals it takes in.”

Comments must be sent by Nov. 16 to: and (please send to both)

Here are some of their suggestions:

  • VDACS should terminate the private shelter status of any organization which kills more than 50% of the animals it takes in.
  • Legislators, citizens and donors expect private animal shelters to be a safe haven for homeless pets and VDACS should ensure that is the case.

I would add a few more:

  • Private shelters should be required to promote animals for adoption and have minimum and set adoption hours when they are open to the public for adoption, including evening and weekend hours.
  • They should be required to work with public shelters and rescue groups to get animals adopted and it should be illegal for them to kill those animals if other shelters and rescue groups are willing to save them. This would allow rescue groups the legal authority to rescue animals PETA intends to kill.
  • They should be required to post found and surrendered animals to the internet to allow people to see them 24/7 from any smartphone or computer. This common sense requirement would not only allow people searching for lost animals to locate them, but it would also allow local groups information necessary to monitor the animals PETA impounds.
  • Private animal shelters should provide prompt and necessary veterinary care, nutritious food, fresh water, exercise, and environmental enrichment.

There’s more.

All of these are reasonable regulatory requirements for a shelter to be “operated for the purpose of finding permanent adoptive homes,” robustly defined. And all of these are reasonable in light of both the legislative intent behind SB 1381 and VDACS’ broad grant of authority to regulate the care and disposition of animals in shelters and to license and inspect those shelters.

And while you are at it, tell them that you expect them to do their jobs and honor the intent of the legislature and the will of the people. Tell them that PETA kills 90% of the animals it takes in, that it steals people’s animals and puts them to death in violation of state laws and regulations, that it has always maintained it is “not in the home finding business” and has made virtually no effort to do so, and that it has a history of criminal conduct and lying to people in order to acquire and kill animals. As such, it cannot legally be licensed as a private shelter under SB 1381.

The leadership and staff at VDACS has so far proven itself to be typically bureaucratic, tragically indifferent, fundamentally uncaring, and as is so typical of oversight agencies, willing to overlook PETA’s criminal conduct by bending over backward for the entity they are supposed to be regulating. Politely, but emphatically, let them know you are watching…


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