Questions About Its Shelter that PETA Can’t Seem to Answer
It always seems the more I think about PETA the more questions surface. The other day I had an exchange on Twitter with Mary Tully, who claims not to work for PETA, just to know a lot about them. She even has a website dedicated to them, with a special category for those who are telling the truth about their killing practices. I’ve linked to it once in the past but I’m not going to do that again because I don’t want to give her any more air and energy than is absolutely necessary. The only reason I’m writing about her now is because I asked her a number of questions during our Twitter exchange — despite claiming to have done an enormous amount of research on PETA, despite being someone PETA consistently refers people to when they have questions about their shelter, she was unable to adequately answer any of them. So I figured I’d write them and others down here, and just keep asking them.
In 2014 PETA received 2,631 cats and dogs and killed 2,324. They found homes for 39. PETA claims its kill numbers are so high because its shelter is one of “last resort,” taking in only sick, elderly, suffering animals, and that animals who don’t fit into those categories are usually transferred to other shelters. There are a lot of problems and questions with that assertion, and that leads to my first batch of questions —
- What is the process by which animals are evaluated? Any good shelter will have a very detailed and thorough evaluation process, one that is used for every animal admitted to the shelter. Ms. Tully told me each animal was evaluated as an individual so decisions are made on a case by case basis. Great, as it should be. Also, not what I asked. Here is an example of a behavioral evaluation form a shelter might use for dogs, here’s one for cats. Here’s a medical assessment form. The website where I found the forms is from Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, it states
Behavioral evaluations involve obtaining as much information as possible about the animal entering your shelter, including his/her behavior prior to relinquishment and his/her behavior while in your facility. The more information you gather about an animal’s behavior, the more able you will be to make sound decisions about its disposition.
Precisely. Because the more we know about an animal the better we can determine what steps will be taken with the animal. One of the claims PETA makes about Maya, the chihuahua who was stolen from her porch by PETA employees and promptly killed, was that she was mistaken for another dog who had been surrendered to them. There are so many things wrong with this statement, and so many questions surrounding it, some of which I addressed in this blog, but for today’s purposes let’s just ask some specific ones.
- Even if Maya was mistaken for another dog, is it PETA policy to not verify with the person surrendering an animal that the right animal has been taken into PETA custody? I’ve been told that the woman who surrendered the dog for which they say Maya was mistaken wasn’t home at the time and that’s why they couldn’t verify her identity. Which leads to another question …
- Is it PETA policy to kill an animal without first verifying his/her identity? You’d think, when something like the life of an animal is on the line, PETA would want to be 100% positive that they have the correct animal before killing him/her. Which leads to another question …
- Does PETA take an owner at their word that an animal is sick/aggressive/suffering, etc? Or does it do its own evaluation of the condition of the animal? When surrendering animals people make up all sorts of stories — the dog is aggressive, the cat won’t stop peeing out of the box, the dog belongs to my neighbor and he doesn’t want it, you get the idea — in order to make themselves look better, or feel better, or to rid the neighborhood of a dog who won’t stop barking, and many other countless justifications. Which is part of the reason shelters have their own, independent processes in order to verify or prove false the information. What are PETA’s?
- How is it determined that an animal is too ill to save? Because there are a lot of shelters and rescues with a lot fewer resources who save very sick animals. Patrick the pitbull is a very good example of this. Patrick was thrown down a garbage chute, he was starving and close to death. Here’s what he looked like shortly after his rescue
Here’s what he looks like now that he’s been nurtured back to health
I’ll give you another example, our dog, Firu. Firu was a Costa Rican street dog, he was hit by a car who slammed into him so hard that his femur was snapped in half and his hip was dislocated, he was left to die alone by the side of the road. A woman I think of as one of his guardian angels picked him up and brought him to a shelter. I’ve spoken extensively about FIru to his other guardian angel –the woman who runs the shelter. Her first thought wasn’t “let’s put this dog out of his misery,” it was “let’s save this dog.” In addition to being broken physically he was malnourished and weak, they weren’t sure he could be saved but they began to try — through love and medical care they succeeded. This is a shelter that sees the most ill, most emotionally and physically broken, animals you can imagine. And they save them. And they do it with a lot fewer resources than PETA has. Here’s our Firu today
I understand that there are circumstances under which an animal really cannot be saved — they truly are gravely ill, or there truly are not the resources to nurture them back to health. I don’t think those cases would add up to 2,324 dead animals in one year by one organization.
Which leads to another question
- What is PETA’s euthanasia policy? When I asked for PETA’s euthanasia policy Ms. Tully provided me with this:
Which, of course, isn’t a euthanasia policy, it’s a FB comment. HUGE difference. Here’s an example of a stated euthanasia policy from the Baltimore Humane Society.
Here are some other questions I asked that I still don’t have answers for:
- What kind of documentation is offered about the condition of animals PETA receives? You would think, especially since PETA is under such close scrutiny for its “shelter” practices, it would carefully document through things like medical examinations, photographs, and forms the conditions of animals. Quite some time ago Ms. Tully, through a comment on my blog, told me this
Any member of the public can walk into any Virginia public or private animal shelter and request to see any animal custody records that was generated in the previous five years.
One would assume documentation of the condition of the animal would be included in those custody records. More questions:
- What are PETA’s adoption standards and requirements?
- What kind of adoption counseling is provided to those adopting?
- What kind of adoption contract is used?
- What are PETA’s shelter hours? Where are those hours posted? Ms. Tully told me they were posted at PETA but I’ve been told otherwise by residents of Hampton Roads, I’d like proof that there are indeed hours posted specifically for the” shelter” at PETA.
- Is the “shelter” easily accessible to the public? Again, I have been told that, in order to visit the shelter, one must go to the receptionist and then wait for a specific person to come get you and bring you into the four or five holding rooms they have. Seems a pretty complicated, and non-transparent, process for a shelter. Most shelters are easily accessible because they want people to visit them and to visit the animals they have available for adoption. This seems not to be the case with PETA. Why?
So, those are the questions I’m asking for now, I’d encourage others to ask them as well. Especially if you are still supporting PETA, still giving money to them. Questions are not an indictment in and of themselves, they’re just questions. And these are questions that should be easily answered — which is why it’s troubling that PETA, and a woman to whose website they consistently refer people for answers about their “shelter,” can’t seem to adequately do that.