When people think of the animal rights movement, most often the name “PETA” will come to mind. While the group has been criticized for its sometimes over-the-top tactics to get people to think about how animals are used and abused in our society, there is no doubt that PETA has done incredible things for the animal rights movement writ-large. After all, without PETA many people would likely never stop to think about how their personal choices impact other living beings – even if the way that they reached this conclusion involved seeing people bathed in blood and wrapped in cellophane to simulate raw meat.

PETA has engrained the idea that using animals for food, clothing or any other purpose is murder … which is why we’re a little caught off guard by the recent news that PETA euthanizes the majority of animals they rescue for their shelter program, headquartered in Norfolk Virginia.


Based on the 2014 statistics from the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, 787 dogs and 1,536 cats were euthanized in PETA’s shelter! Yes, PETA kills animals.

The shelter system in the U.S. is notoriously recognized as inefficient. About five out of every 10 dogs and seven out of 10 cats are put down every year in shelters. To be clear, PETA does not assert that they run a “no kill shelter” (by the way many no kill shelters across the U.S. have adoption rates of 90 percent), but that this facility was their “shelter of last resort,” used to put down only the most sickly animals. Clearly, the numbers make it apparent that is not what’s happening here.

According to a PETA press release, they are working to address the problems of pet overpopulation by running a “crisis of care” campaign in North Carolina and Virginia. As part of this campaign, they provide services to spay and neuter stray animals. In 2014, over 10,950 cats and dogs were sterilized. They also encourage people to always adopt cats and dogs, rather than shopping for them and are adamant proponents of spaying/neutering current pets. To learn more about what their rescue team does, check out this video.

In response to misconduct in the Virginia animal shelter system, not limited to PETA, the state Senate has passed a bill that will redefine the meaning of “shelter” to be confined to, “a facility operated for the purpose of finding permanent adoptive homes and facilitating other lifesaving outcomes for animals.”


If the bill passes in the House, it will formally amend the language of section 3.2-6500 of the Code of Virginia, and will effectively disallow PETA from carrying on their shelter.

PETA has become an incredibly high profile organization in the animal rights and welfare space and it is disappointing to learn about these facts. We cannot emphasize enough the fact that as individuals, we all have the duty to learn about the plight of animals in the shelter system and collectively work to find better solutions across the country. As animal lovers, this does not change our devotion to making the planet a better place for all living things.

PETA has opened our eyes to countless horrors facing animals, and we hope that they can collaborate with advocates from the no-kill movement to change the statistics related to the plight of homeless animals across the country.

Image source: izarbeltza/Flickr