Why Would PeTA Hire a Lobbyist to Defeat a Bill Intended to Help Animals?
In Virginia tomorrow Senate Bill 1381, which has already passed the Senate, will go in front of the House. This bill “clarifies the purpose of a private animal shelter is to find permanent and adoptive homes and facilitate other lifesaving outcomes for animals.” If SB 1381 passes it would mean that PeTA, which states that it has a shelter (and, therefore, has to meet the legal guidelines for animal shelters), would have to shift from killing the majority of animals it takes in to finding adoptive homes for them instead. The way it would most impact PeTA is clearly stated in this article by Arin Greenwood at the Huffington Post:
“The current wording of the definition has been interpreted to create a loophole under which the PETA facility in Norfolk operates as a private animal shelter but without the purpose of finding permanent adoptive homes for animals,” Tabitha Frizzell Hanes, of the Richmond SPCA, writes on the shelter’s blog. “Over the past decade, as save rates at private shelters across Virginia have risen and euthanasia rates have fallen, the PETA facility euthanizes the animals it takes in at a rate of about 90 percent.
“It is out of step with the progress being made for our state’s homeless animals for a private shelter to operate not with the purpose of finding animals adoptive homes but almost entirely to take their lives.”
The purpose of an animal shelter is rescue, killing the vast majority of animals that come into a shelter is not part of rescue. Apparently, PeTA wants so badly for this bill to fail that it hired a lobbyist whose aim is to make sure that the bill fails, as outlined in this latest piece on the Huffington Post by Douglas Anthony Cooper. Quoting Mr. Cooper,
The bill seemed certain to pass in the House, as the Senate approved it 33-5. That certainty has evaporated with the revelation that PETA has hired a famous lobbyist to urge Virginia Delegates to vote nay. VPAP (The Virginia Public Access Project) has reported that Stephen D. Haner has been retained by PETA to lobby politicians in the area of “all matters related to the operation of private animal shelters in the Commonwealth of Virginia.” (VPAP is a non-partisan institution aimed at keeping Virginia voters informed.)
Why would PeTA want so badly for this bill to fail that it hired a lobbyist in order to fight the bill’s chances of passing? PeTA stated that, in 2014, it provided “free euthanasia services for 2,454 dogs, cats, and other animals in just one area of the United States.” While many shelters offer a humane euthanasia service, I cannot imagine that the numbers of animals euthanized under this service at any given shelter are anywhere near what PeTA says it does. The implication of “free euthanasia services” means the owner of a dog, cat, or other companion animal brings their animal to PeTA for humane euthanasia because the animal is suffering, due to age or illness. My understanding is that this bill would not impact that activity, and my feeling is that they are fighting this bill so hard because animals suffering due to age or illness whose owners are asking for humane euthanasia is not the true explanation for PeTA’s outrageously high kill rate. The reason for the high kill rate is that animals who PeTA has surrendered to it for the purposes of adoption are never (or extremely rarely) placed up for adoption, rather they are killed. If this bill passes, PeTA would no longer legally be able to do that and things would get very tricky for the organization.