When Local Media Presents Tales as Facts it Becomes That Much Easier for PETA to Continue Its Killing
Anyone who pays attention to media in Hampton Roads sees clearly that the Virginia Pilot is unabashedly pro-PETA, making it difficult to trust their coverage of the organization. On Tuesday the Pilot.Online.com published an article that, on the surface, was about the implementation of SB1381. SB1381 is a bill that recently passed in Virginia, what it does is clarify that the “purpose of an animal shelter is to find permanent and adoptive homes for animals.” This is a pretty common sense definition of an animal shelter but the reason it had to be legally solidified is because PETA’s “animal shelter” kills at unprecedented rates, and many in Virginia saw that something had to be done in order to tame their numbers. The Pilot article was framed as being about the implementation of the new law but it read a lot like a fluff piece for PETA.
First, the article asserts that SB1381 was “controversial” — in actuality it passed the Virginia Senate 38/1, the House 95/2, and had overwhelming support from animal advocates in Virginia. It is only controversial because PETA and their defenders want to frame it that way. Daphna Nachminovitch, PETA’s Senior Vice President of Cruelty Investigations, asserts that “no other state has a cap or quota regarding euthanasia.” That may be true but no other state has PETA killing thousands of animals within its borders every year. In 2014, PETA received 2,631 animals and killed 2,324 of those animals. They rehomed 39. Let those numbers sink in. 2,324 animals dead at the hands of PETA employees. 2,324.
PETA would like people to believe that its numbers are so high because it is the only shelter who will accept aggressive, terminal, or suffering animals free of charge but that is simply not true. In the article, in order to support this lie, Ms. Nachminovitch told the story of a woman who had come to them with two aggressive dogs. Nachminovitch claimed the woman had first called the Virginia Beach Animal Care and Control shelter and “was told that they could not accept the dogs to euthanize them.” Which seems rather suspicious — would Virginia Beach AC really turn away aggressive dogs? The reason it seems suspicious is because it only tells a fraction of what likely happened. This is what is stated on their website in regards to surrendering animals for the purposes of euthanasia:
The Animal Care and Adoption Center is an open-admission shelter meaning we will never turn your animal away. You may surrender your animal to us.
If you choose to surrender your animal, the decision to euthanize, adopt, or transfer that animal to another organization rests with our professional staff.
If we determine that euthanasia is the appropriate decision for the animal, certified and trained staff will humanely perform the procedure with the utmost care.
Also noted on their website, there is no charge for surrendering an animal to their shelter. When someone brings an animal to a shelter for the purposes of euthanasia it is imperative that the shelter have its own professional process to determine the health, behavior, and potential adoptability of that animal — to do otherwise is not ethical and could potentially result in the deaths of healthy, adoptable animals. Are there situations where euthanasia is needed? Absolutely. But a shelter must verify that they are doing the right thing for the animal, that is where their responsibility sits — they euthanize because it is warranted, not because an owner says it should be done. If policy was followed, what likely happened is the woman contacted the Virginia Beach AC shelter, was told she could sign ownership of the dogs over to them and they would make their own independent determinations about what should happen to the dogs and, for whatever reason, she chose not to do that. For the record, I did contact Virginia Beach Animal Control for clarification but I have not heard back from them, if I do I will update this blog.
The second claim that was made by Nachminovitch, according to the article, is that the women then contacted a veterinarian and was told the cost for euthanasia for two dogs was estimated at $1,000, which is a mind blowing amount. What the article did not state when it was originally published is that this was the cost for in-home euthanasia and cremation services. This clarification was only made in the article after a few residents of Hampton Roads questioned the reporter about the incident. In fact, the reporter hadn’t even verified Nachminovitch’s story with the owner of the dogs until after being pushed to do so, after the story was published. He took Nachminovitch at her word and relayed a story that was full of half truths and holes. Maybe Nachminovitch only knew that much of the story, and that’s fine. What isn’t fine is that the reporter did not bother to get the entire truth and the version of events that was published was very clearly sympathetic to PETA’s narrative. How is “journalism” like that supposed to be taken seriously? And how are we, the public, supposed to rely on the integrity of news organizations who publish articles with so little regard for fact checking and truth? The reporter should have verified what he had been told — before publishing the story and not after. And a copy editor should have caught that the verification had not been done. It’s a slippery slope to present someone else’s statements as fact, it can also inform the quality of the source if something they say can be easily proven/disproven — as outlined by Reuters here.
In the battle to save animals who are vulnerable to PETA’s kill first policy we are up against not only an immoral behemoth with deep pockets but a very clearly complicit “news” organization that seems to have no problem presenting half truths as fact. It is the responsibility of each of us to ensure we are getting the entire picture, and that we have all the facts, not just snipets presented to us by PETA and those who support them — we owe that to the animals.