Written by PETA
No, no, not that kind of jacket. We're talking about the jacket of PETA President Ingrid E. Newkirk's new book, The PETA Practical Guide to Animal Rights:
A few select copies of the book were outfitted with covers made from real fur—pieces of the more than 20,000 fur coats that have been donated to PETA by fur-wearers who have had a change of heart. It seemed like a fitting way to illustrate how far the animal rights movement has come in the past 25 years—and the kind of change that people can bring about by putting the advice in Ingrid's book into action.
And boy, did that fur jacket ever get the attention of TV and radio producers who received complimentary copies! Many of them were so intrigued that they decided to have Ingrid come on their shows to explain why a person would put a $7,500 fur coat in a box and mail it to PETA. (Hint: This video probably plays a part.)
Of course, most of the fur coats that are donated to PETA are used in "bloody" protests outside (and sometimes inside) designers' boutiques, spooky protests at fashion shows, and slightly silly "fur is a drag" parade entries. They are also torched in fur funeral pyres, donated to wildlife rehabilitators to use as bedding for orphaned and injured wildlife, and even given away to the only humans who have any reason to wear fur—homeless people and refugees of wars and natural disasters.
Have a musty old fur cluttering up your closet? Click here to find out more about PETA's fur donation program.
Written by Alisa Mullins
We have just learned that Shawn Matthew Lyons, one of the men caught abusing pigs during our investigation of an Iowa pig farm, pleaded guilty to one count of livestock neglect. This charge was filed after authorities reviewed our investigators' video, which showed Lyons beating a pig on the back at least 10 times with a metal gate rod.
According to court records posted today, Lyons has been ordered to pay a fine of $625—the maximum permitted by law—and an additional $250 in court costs and surcharges. Lyons has been placed on probation for six months, during which time he is prohibited from working with any animals. All convicted animal abusers should be barred from contact with animals, and we commend prosecutor Nic Martino for securing this vital sentencing condition.
To our knowledge, Lyons is the first individual ever convicted of abusing or neglecting a factory-farmed pig in Iowa, the nation's top pork-producing state. His conviction sends yet another wake-up call to the pork industry: Cruelty to pigs will not be tolerated by the public or the criminal justice system. And you never know where our undercover investigators will turn up next …
Written by Christine Doré
On September 18, 2007, I spent eight hours with Michael Vick at PETA headquarters. He was there to participate in PETA's "Developing Empathy for Animals" course as part of an education process that PETA hoped would ultimately lead Michael to speak out publicly against dogfighting.
In one segment of the course, Michael watched a police training video about the link between violence against animals and violence against humans. It contains graphic footage shot at a dogfight. I watched Michael grimace while watching this footage, in the way that any normal person would. At another point, the video shows a young person hanging a live cat from the ceiling and stabbing the animal to death with a knife. At this point, Michael closed his eyes and turned his head from the screen, seemingly disturbed by what he saw.
Michael also watched a slide-show of photos taken of neglected dogs. He was asked to describe what each animal must have felt in their situation. He aced this part of the course, pointing out that starving dogs living in garbage with heavy, rusty chains around their necks must be "lonely," "sad," and "terrified," and pointed to such indicators as the dogs' tails curled between their legs and their heads bowed in submission. You can see Michael's hand-written responses to the empathy test questions here.
I came away from that meeting encouraged. Even though I felt uncomfortable to be in the same room with a man who had tortured and killed so many animals, Michael seemed like an intelligent and thoughtful person who had made horrible decisions in his life but who regretted the consequences, both for himself and others, and who was genuinely trying to change.
However, despite pledging to become an "ally" in the fight against dogfighting, Michael and his camp have done little more than mouth assurances that he's learned his lesson. Since this meeting, they have only surfaced when Michael has been scheduled for court appearances—until now, when he is asking to get his old job back.
And there is more. Despite the hopes I had for Michael during our meeting, we now know that not only did he lie to the NFL in direct questioning about his activity, he also lied in his lie detector tests after his arrest—something that the recently released USDA report revealed for the first time. We need to know if Michael's post-arrest contrition was part of a flawed human being's genuine growth and development or just part of the machinations of a man with a clinically diagnosable anti-social personality disorder.
Until Michael agrees to submit to a brain scan and psychological evaluation, we have no way of knowing. And until then, PETA will refuse to be a part of a public service announcement that may simply be a public relations ploy from a convicted felon trying to manipulate his way back into the NFL. We hope that the NFL will take the same approach.
Written by Dan Shannon
Here's a rare glimpse into what it's like for an undercover investigator. We would like to give a heartfelt thank you to the two brave individuals who went undercover at this pig factory farm in Iowa (and to undercover investigators everywhere). The investigators hope their experiences will motivate you to make a difference for animals each day in your own way. Here's what they had to say:
What exactly was your reaction when you saw just how badly the animals were really being treated? Did you cry?
Investigator 1: I was horrified and terribly saddened. But I had a good idea of what I was going to see, and I prepared myself for it. … Because it is so critical to conceal my identity and my sympathy for animals while undercover, I [can only] cry on the inside when I see the abuse and the cruelty. I can never let my coworkers see that side of me. Sometimes, I will let out a good cry at home or in my car after a particularly disturbing day.
Investigator 2: There were some nights I would get home and get emotional about the day's events. You have to hold it inside until you get home. If the other employees see you react in an emotional way, it would blow your cover. The people whom I have met working at a hog farm would never get emotional or upset due to the mistreatment of the animals, and so we must act in that same manner.
What toll does it take on you mentally and emotionally? How do you handle working in facilities that abuse animals?
Investigator 1: The job is challenging, both mentally and emotionally. It always helps me tremendously to look at the big picture and focus on the light at the end of the tunnel. Personal sacrifice is almost always necessary to achieve great change. But I take solace in those … moments that I spend, one-on-one, with the animals whom I meet on an assignment. Looking into the sad eyes of a suffering animal motivates me and energizes me to do more. And I realize that my mental and emotional anguish pales in comparison to the suffering and pain this animal is feeling right now. I get to go home after work every day, but the animals never leave.
Investigator 2: It can take a large toll on you. Seeing what happens firsthand day in and day out definitely affects you. There are times during a case when I have had nightmares about it. The only way to really get through it is to always keep in mind that this would all be happening if I was there or not. By being there, I have the opportunity to help stop abuse.
To read all of the questions and answers from the investigators, click here.
Do you think you'd be able to handle being an undercover investigator?
There's a great editorial titled "PETA's Undercover Agents Deserve a Pat on the Back" in the Post-Bulletin that's well worth reading. We don't generally just push people over to another site, but when something is good it's good—so we'll let someone else do the writing this time.
Check out the editorial here.
Written by Joel Bartlett
It's with a proud and ecstatic heart that I report this news today! Our investigation into an Iowa pig farm that breeds piglets destined for Hormel has resulted in 22—that's right, count them—22 criminal charges.
The Greene County Sheriff just announced in a news release that six individuals employed by the farm at the time of PETA's investigation now face a total of 22 counts of livestock neglect and abuse. Those charged include a former farm manager—who we understand still works on another pig factory farm—and a supervisor, as well as two individuals who still punch the clock at the Iowa factory farm as we speak.
A whopping 14 of the counts are aggravated misdemeanors—the stiffest possible charges under Iowa state law for crimes committed against farmed animals—carrying up to two years behind bars. To PETA's knowledge, this is unprecedented.
Charges based on PETA's undercover investigations are now pending against pig factory farmers in both Iowa—the nation's top pig-raising state—and North Carolina, which occupies the second rung on that dubious list!
This is a small victory for farmed animals, but we mustn't forget that Hormel, which financially supports this farm, has by all appearances yet to make any changes as a result of this investigation. It has refused to meet with us or even watch all of the footage, which we have repeatedly offered to show the company. Maybe now that the law has spoken up, Hormel will finally listen.
Please, urge Hormel to take action now.
One month ago, we released shocking footage from an undercover investigation of a factory farm in Iowa that raises pigs who are destined for Hormel. The public was rightly outraged by the horrific findings of PETA's investigators, who found that workers repeatedly hit pigs with metal gate rods and canes, a worker slammed the heads of piglet "runts" into the floor, and a supervisor shoved a cane into a sow's vagina and talked about sexually abusing pigs.
Even after the farm changed ownership and management during the investigation, this disgusting treatment and abuse of animals continued.
That being said, we have just released previously unseen footage from the investigation, apparently showing the farm manager kicking and shocking a pig. Unbelievably, he is still the manager of the farm!
In the video, the farm manager is seen shocking a pig with an electric prod and kicking her—both in apparent violation of the farm owner's own written policy—in a prolonged attempt to make her stand, which is a requirement for pigs who are sold for slaughter. The suffering sow, who was unable to stand due to crippled hind limbs, was left in the pen for two days, bleeding from a severed hoof, until she was ultimately shot and killed.
This shocking footage of the farm manager was recorded the very next working day after PETA's undercover investigator reported to the farm manager the abuse that he had documented at the farm.
We are seething mad that the farm manager retains his position as farm manager and has been allowed to continue to supervise other employees and their treatment of pigs. It is painfully obvious to us that all factory farms—as long as they exist—must be managed by individuals who are competent in humane handling of animals and who can lead by example. We'll let you determine whether he fits the bill.
We stand firm in our demand that Hormel take action against these abuses, despite the company's continued failure to respond to our attempts to work with it. Join us in renewing our pressure on Hormel. Demand that the company enact meaningful reforms to prevent this sort of abuse from occurring on its suppliers' farms.
Update: We wanted to make sure that it's clear to our readers that we offered several times to show Hormel and the farm's management ALL the footage that was taken during PETA's undercover investigation at the supplier's farm—including the above footage of the manager. Neither Hormel nor the farm's management took us up on our offer.
Written by Jennifer Cierlitsky
Okay, hold the phone—during a recent Philadelphia Phillies/Los Angeles Dodgers playoff game, commentator Joe Buck mentioned that Phillies player Shane Victorino's favorite food is Spam musubi. A few reactions here—one: gross; I can think of a hundred different fillings I'd like for my onigiri, and canned meat ain't one of them.
Two: Why? The Phillies' Citizens Bank Ballpark has been ranked the "Most Vegetarian Friendly Ballpark" two years in a row for its impressive vegetarian offerings, such as Philly faux-steak sandwiches, "crab-free crab cakes," mock-chicken sandwiches, and veggie dogs. With all of these delicious, cruelty-free options available, why would you choose to go cholesterol- and cruelty-heavy? (Okay, so Spam musubi is a popular food in Shane's native Hawaii—but as my mother would say, what's popular is not always right.)
And finally (and most importantly), three: SPAM is made by Hormel, and Hormel is supplied by factory farms like this one in Iowa. You remember—the factory farm where the pigs were beaten and vaginally and—according to one bragging supervisor—anally penetrated? Where their tails and testicles were cut off without anesthetic?
We're giving Shane the benefit of the doubt here: He probably didn't know about the torments faced by the piglets destined to be slaughtered for Hormel and possibly end up as SPAM. But hey, knowledge is power, right? So PETA Assistant Director (and major sports fan) Dan Shannon has written him a letter giving some background info on Hormel and the way its suppliers and that Iowa farm treat pigs. We suspect that the cruelty in every can of SPAM will make Shane madder than a high Hiroki Kuroda fastball—and that a change in snack foods might be in order.
Written by Amanda Schinke
Being a shareholder of a major company can come with perks. I once got a free pen for attending Smithfield Foods' annual meeting. I got a coupon (which I used for a veggie burger) at another shareholder meeting.
OK, so those types of perks aren't anything to write home about. The real "perk" for us—which is the reason that we purchase stock in animal-abusing companies in the first place—is the chance to have a voice in the inner workings of a company like Hormel Foods, the meatpacking giant based out of Austin, Minnesota.
This week, we cashed in on that perk, so to speak, by submitting a shareholder resolution calling on the company to include information on its packaging disclosing every piece of meat's greenhouse-gas "footprint" on the world. Doing more damage than all the automobiles and airplanes in the world combined, it's the meat industry that contributes most to global warming. And we're not the only ones who think it's smart to clue consumers in: Some food companies are already printing per-serving greenhouse-gas emissions levels on product labels.
Now, as a result of our resolution, all Hormel investors—from Joe Schmoe, who might own a dozen shares, up to the largest major banking firm, which might own five to 10 percent of the company—will be able to read about all the ways that producing meat contributes to global warming, and more importantly, they'll have a chance to vote on whether they feel that Hormel should own up to its devastating eco-footprint.
You can read the full text of the resolution here.
Written by Matt Prescott, assistant director of Corporate Affairs
you have a general question for PETA and would like a response, please e-mail Info@peta.org. If you need to report cruelty to
an animal, please click
here. If you are reporting an animal in imminent danger and know where to find the
animal and if the abuse is taking place right now, please call your local
police department. If the police are unresponsive, please call PETA
immediately at 757-622-7382 and press 2.
Follow PETA on Twitter!
Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights? Read more.