The kill room at PETA. According to PETA employees, the room is euphemistically called the “exam room.” No exam is done for purposes of placement or, if they are sick, for purposes of treatment. “They would take the animals into that room and they would be euthanized. A litter of kittens, sometimes a mother with kittens, they were put in that room and once you went in that room, you never came out.”
Earlier this month, the Virginia Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services (VDACS) posted 2015 intake, adoption, and kill numbers for PETA. PETA admits it killed 1,009 of the 1,286 cats they took in and 447 of the 688 dogs they took in. Only 3% of each were adopted. Since these are self-reported numbers and PETA has a history of lying to the public in order to kill their animals, a history of stealing animals in order to kill them, and a history of killing animals “off the books,” this represents a best case scenario, as awful as it already is. But there is yet another reason to be concerned.
According to PETA, they transferred 217 dogs to various shelters:
- 165 to the Virginia Beach SPCA
- 1 to Virginia Beach Animal Control
- 7 to Peninsula Regional Animal Shelter
- 22 to Norfolk Animal Care Center
- 1 Southampton County Animal Control
- 2 to Portsmouth Humane
- 15 to the Peninsula SPCA
- 3 to the Greenville Animal Shelter
- 1 to a non-shelter group
PETA also claims it transferred 226 cats to various shelters:
- 10 to the Virginia Beach SPCA
- 29 to Virginia Beach Animal Control
- 25 to Chesapeake Animal Control
- 27 to Peninsula Regional Animal Center
- 70 to Norfolk Animal Care Center
- 30 to Isle of Wight County Animal Control
- 13 to Portsmouth Humane
- 20 to Peninsula SPCA
- 1 to Suffolk Animal Shelter
- 1 to a non-shelter group
Finally, PETA says it transferred three “other” companion animals to two shelters:
- 1 to Chesapeake Animal Control
- 2 to Norfolk Animal Care Center
And yet, some of these shelters do not report receiving any animals from PETA. Even though PETA says it sent Peninsula Regional Animal Center seven dogs and 27 cats, for example, PRAC filed its own report stating it did not take in any animals from any other releasing agency, which includes PETA. Likewise, while PETA claims it sent 70 cats, 22 dogs, and two “other companion animals” to the Norfolk Animal Care Center, Norfolk reports taking in only 61 cats, 31 dogs, and two “other companion animals” from Chesapeake Animal Control and Virginia Beach Animal Control. It does not report taking in any from PETA.
What makes these discrepancies so concerning is PETA’s history of deceit, though it is certainly possible that this is just a case of misreporting on the part of the receiving agencies. Conceivably, they could have been logged in as “strays” or “owner surrenders.” For example, when PETA goes out on calls about community cats, they require people who call to sign a form giving PETA “permission” to take the cats. What these people sometimes do not know and what PETA does not tell them is that it is a surrender form, giving PETA the excuse they want to kill the cats right away without a holding period. (Since these cats are legally classified as “strays,” however, neither PETA nor the person signing the form have the legal ability to treat them as “surrendered.”) Are these animals then being sent to Norfolk Animal Care Center or Peninsula Regional Animal Shelter as “owner surrenders” who are then killed, while PETA claims them as “live releases”? Are they being impounded as strays? Perhaps; although that doesn’t explain why animals taken in as “owner surrenders” and “strays” from other releasing agencies by these shelters are listed correctly and not those from PETA.
“I was told regularly to not enter animals into the log, or to euthanize off site in order to prevent animals from even entering the building. I was told regularly to greatly overestimate the weight of animals whose euthanasia we recorded in order to account for what would have otherwise been missing ‘blue juice’ (the chemical used to euthanize), because that allowed us to euthanize animals off the books. I was told regularly to say whatever I had to say in order to get people to surrender animals to me, lying was not only acceptable, it was encouraged.”
We just don’t know and my attempts to find out were rebuffed. What we do know is that the reports of what PETA says is happening and what those other organizations say is happening don’t mesh, though VDACS isn’t likely to care. Unfortunately for the animals, the leadership and staff at VDACS–namely Commissioner Sandra Adams, State Veterinarian Richard Wilkes, and Program Manager Carolyn Bissett–have so far proven themselves to be typically bureaucratic, tragically indifferent, fundamentally uncaring, and as is so typical of oversight agencies, willing to overlook PETA’s misconduct, even criminal conduct, by bending over backward for the entity they are supposed to be regulating. As a result, we’re not likely to get definitive answers any time soon.
In the end, however, it might not make any difference. The likely outcome for these animals is that they are dead: either PETA killed them or the receiving agencies did. Because even if this is just a curious case of misreporting by the other agencies and PETA did send them the animals, they sent them to their deaths as these shelters kill large numbers of animals. Peninsula Regional Animal Shelter, for example, kills 65% of all cats taken in. So even if they did not kill any of the PETA cats, which strains credulity, those cats almost certainly displaced others who were killed, even as handing them over for others to kill gives PETA the ability to deceptively claim these animals as “live releases;” a shell game.
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