Five years ago I wrote the first of many pieces on my experiences as a field worker for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. The piece, “Rescued By Black Boy: how a neglected dog set me back on my path, away from PETA,” detailed a job that was the opposite of what you might expect. You would think a field worker for arguably the most powerful animal rights organization in the world — whose job included working in the most impoverished areas of Hampton Roads and beyond, investigating cruelty and abuse cases, taking in animals, some of whom were well loved but many of whom were neglected at best — would be tasked with rescuing, nurturing, and rehoming animals in need. But nothing could be further from the truth. Instead, I was instructed to lie in order to gain custody of animals — to tell people we would do our very best to find new homes if they would only surrender custody of their animals. Then I was instructed to kill those animals and make NO effort to rehome them. And I was berated and ridiculed by leadership when I spoke up about wanting to adopt out animals rather than kill them immediately.
Contrary to PETA’s assertion that nearly every animal who enters through their doors, or ends up in their vans, ends up dead because most are beyond saving, the vast majority of the animals surrendered to PETA during my tenure were healthy and highly adoptable, and I am positive this is still the case today. Some may have needed a little rehabilitation — either for health reasons or socialization reasons — but that’s nothing shelters don’t deal with on a daily basis. Except for PETA’s “shelter,” because it is not a shelter, it is a place where animals are brought to die.
PETA’s response to my initial blog, and those that followed, was to call me a “disgruntled employee” who was fired for my “instability” (in stark contrast to a performance review shortly before my firing where I was called an “excellent” employee and given a raise, of which I have proof if you click on the attached link) and was now on the warpath for vengeance. Fifteen years after I was fired. They then proceeded to attack me, and sit back while others attacked me for them.
For five years I have waited, hoped, prayed, for another former PETA employee to come forward about PETA’s euthanasia practices, about how employees are instructed to lie in order to gain custody of animals, about what it’s like to work in an organization many (rightly so) refer to as a “cult.” And now someone has, in a piece entitled “When the Crusade for Animals Falls Victim to Oppression.” Tears filled my eyes as I read her piece, partly because it is painful to read about such difficult experiences, and partly because I was so grateful to finally be vindicated. All along I, and those who know me, and many who don’t, have known I was telling the truth about PETA. But I so desperately wanted someone else to come forward, to show that I am not the mentally unstable, vengeful person PETA claims. Not because I care about what anyone thinks of me personally but because it would expose them as the liars they are –demonstrating how they have lied about me in order to protect their “shelter.” And, in small part, because their character attack was so brutal that, at its worst, they attempted to jeopardize my husband’s career by fabricating several lies about us. In that moment my mother bear instincts kicked in hard and the fight became deeply personal. To finally have another firsthand account, one more voice telling the truth, to expose PETA’s practices, is something for which I am eternally grateful.
Today we are two voices, tomorrow we could be four, the next day more. I, once again, ask former employees to join us in speaking the truth because, trust me, we are much stronger together. Working for PETA, in that toxic place, was soul crushing. I am deeply grateful to Black Boy — he was my savior and my angel, and he paid the ultimate price for that. But because he made me see how far I’d strayed, animals like my Cito, plucked off the streets of Honduras, are alive — I thank him every day for that and so much more. I say to other former employees that speaking out, fighting their killing, making amends, is healing. Without it, I could not have healed from what I allowed myself to do at PETA.
And, to PETA, I hope you’re prepared. While I have been quiet lately I have not forgotten my promise to Black Boy and to Maya — to never stop fighting and to never let them be forgotten. I am not going anywhere, I am in this until the end. And the only way this will end is when you stop killing the animals you should be saving.