PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) is the world’s largest animal rights organisation, with more than 5 million members and supporters.
While they have been successful in saving animals from harm and exploitation, the organisation is at the centre of conspiracy theories and scandals which they cover up from the public with elaborate protests, publicity stunts, and racy celebrity endorsements – last week PETA became an investor in luxury clothing brand Canada Goose, who use coyote fur and duck down in their parka coats. They invested $4,000 in the company so they can attend shareholder’s meetings and try and stop Canada Goose from using animal products in its manufacturing.
Their views on pet ownership and statistics of domestic animals in their care is the opposite of the message they project to the media and on social media.
Owning a pet has many benefits for both the owner and the animal.
Research by the National Center For Health Research found that companion animals help to lower blood pressure and in regulating heart rate during stressful situations. Pets also offer social support and give dog owners an incentive to exercise. Children who have no siblings develop higher self-esteem, are more physically fit, and have greater social skills if they grow up in a household with a pet.
A study from the University of Veterinary Medicine (Vetmeduni Vienna) found that dogs are so well-adapted to living with humans that they enter parent-child relationships with their owners. Dogs were also found to be more drawn to humans than to other dogs.
The “secure base effect” is a concept to explain a child’s attachment to their caregiver when upset, anxious, or uncomfortable. Researcher Lisa Horn used this concept in the study and found that the secure base effect relates to dogs as well as children. While human’s outgrow the need for a secure base and become more independent, the research revealed that dogs retain their need for a base as they age.
PETA does not agree that dogs are man’s best friend – according to their website, pocessing animals is our own “selfish desire.”
We believe it would have been in the animal’s best interests if the institution of ‘pet keeping’… never existed.
PETA say that an animal’s “strongest desire is to be free” but they are restricted to being in houses, cages and fenced up gardens.
Dogs are descendent of wolves, but were domesticated thousands of years ago. A research project has obtained mitochondrial data from 59 domesticated dogs who lived between 3,000 and 14,000 years ago. The argument that dogs are being kept from their natural environment is not a stable enough to shame pet owners.
While condemning the domestication of cats, PETA say that cats must “relieve themselves in dirty litter boxes and often have the tip of their toes amputated through declawing.”
Contradicting their earlier statement, another article published by the organisation states that cats should not be kept as outdoor pets – they can “live happily indoors.” Their guidelines for keeping a cat as a pet is that they should be supervised when let outside, and brought for walks on a leash. The article also promotes Cat Fence-In, mesh barriers that prevent cats from climbing out of their garden.
PETA’s views on cat ownership are completely contradictory as they condemn keeping animals in confined spaces, but promote it later on.
PETA is a supporter of euthanising when necessary, as long as a humane method is used. This is surprising considering their extreme views on pet ownership – if people didn’t own pets would that not mean that most of our cats and dogs would be in shelters and pounds, putting them in the queue for euthanasia?
In 2010 one of PETA’s shelters in Norfolk, Virginia was investigated by Dr. Daniel Kovich of the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS). He reported that “the facility does not contain sufficient animal enclosures to routinely house the number of animals annually reported as taken into custody.”
He noted that PETA’s shelter didn’t meet it’s own guidelines for running a shelter correctly.
The VDACS requires all animal shelters to report the number of cats and dogs that they take in every year. The reports reveal the number of animals reclaimed, rehoused, relocated to other shelters, euthanised, died of natural causes, and how many were still in the shelter after the year.
After looking over PETA’s Dog and cat dispostion 6 year history for the Virginia shelter, Dr. Kovich found that of the 13,938 animals taken into custody between 2004 and 2009, 95% were euthanised and 5% were re-housed. The organisations’ intake policy states that they only euthanise animals that are suffering of old age, with illness, or injured animals whose owners cannot afford their medical care.
The most recent report from PETA reveals that they took in 2,007 animals in 2016 – including cats, dogs, equine, livestock, and poultry. In total 90 were reclaimed by their owner or adopted. They killed 1,428 or 71% of the animals taken into custody.
In comparison, data released by the Department of Housing, Planning, and Local Government shows that in 2015 13,051 dogs were taken into custody in Ireland by shelters – 5,211 were reclaimed or adopted and 1,824 were euthanised.
When supporting any cause it is important to investigate organisations before you involve yourself with them or donate to.