Written by PETA
PETA founder Ingrid E. Newkirk offers hundreds of simple ways to stop cruelty to animals in her new book, The PETA Practical Guide to Animal Rights: Simple Acts of Kindness to Help Animals in Trouble, which was released today.
While Ingrid is out on the road promoting kindness on her book tour, PETA's vice presidents are stepping up to our virtual podium for a Q&A with all of you PETA Files readers. They are poised to answer your hard-hitting animal rights and PETA questions. But first, some introductions are in order.
Meet the VPs
Dan MathewsSenior Vice President of Campaigns
PETA's dashing senior VP was once a green-haired punk rocker who flipped burgers at McDonald's. But when this pop-culture junkie breezed through PETA's doors in 1985, it was clear that he was born to lead our campaigns. During his two decades at PETA, this author/concert coordinator/protester extraordinaire has been the brains (and brawn) behind some of PETA's most colorful campaigns, including the ever-popular "I'd Rather Go Naked Than Wear Fur" campaign. Dan lives by his personal motto: "Rest When You're Dead."
Just a sampling of the many PETA victories achieved under Dan's watch include convincing Calvin Klein to stop designing with fur after leading a raid in Calvin's office, pressuring GM to stop using animals in crash tests, and lobbying Gillette to halt product tests on animals. He's lined up stars to protest, pose nude, or even go to jail for the cause, including Chrissie Hynde, Sir Paul McCartney, and Pamela Anderson. Dan was named one of the "Most Influential Gays" of the millennium by Genre and one of the "50 Most Beautiful Guys" by teen magazine YM.
He's so funny and charming that it's no wonder that my mom, Carla of "Ask Carla," ignored her gay-dar and once daydreamed about setting him up with me.
Lisa LangeSenior Vice President of Communications
Lisa coordinated the production of some of PETA's most popular and successful videos and PSAs, including the hugely popular "Veggie Love" ad, a vegetarian ad featuring Alicia Silverstone in the buff, and a series of provocative videos for PETA's Animal Birth Control campaign. She also assisted with the production of I Am an Animal, an award-winning HBO documentary about Ingrid E. Newkirk.
She's influenced millions of viewers to consider animals during her smackdowns of animal exploiters on Today, CNBC, CNN's Crossfire, Larry King Live, and Your World With Neil Cavuto. She's appeared numerous times on The O'Reilly Factor and on countless other television and radio programs.
Lisa epitomizes vegan vitality and never stops thinking of ways to alleviate animal suffering—even when she's doing sit-ups at dawn during her boot-camp workouts.
Tracy Reiman Executive Vice President
Tracy oversees all of PETA's campaigns as well as PETA's marketing, corporate affairs, youth, and Web outreach efforts.
Let me take a deep breath before I start listing just a few of Tracy's accomplishments. Whew. OK. She led successful efforts to persuade Mobil, Texaco, Shell, and other big oil corporations to cap their oil stacks to prevent thousands of birds and bats from burning to death. She participated in the infamous sit-in at Calvin Klein's office (as mentioned above), which tipped the balance in convincing the clothing designer to abandon fur. She was instrumental in stopping NASA's cruel Bion project, which involved sending primates into space. Her investigative and rescue work resulted in the first-ever cruelty charges filed against a factory farmer for cruelty to chickens.
Tracy is fearless and tireless in her efforts for animals, and no matter what the situation, she always remains cool, calm, and collected. I've always considered her a sort of female James Bond for animals.
So, what is it that you're dying to know about these die-hard animal activists? Don't be shy. Leave a question (or two) below, and we'll have each of the VPs answer the most thought-provoking questions later this month.
Written by Karin Bennett
Happy birthday to the largest and hardest-hitting animal rights group known to humankind! We're bold, pragmatic, and provocative, and in our old age, we're only getting better at meeting the needs of animals the world over—and we even manage to look good doing it. Seriously, have you checked out our campaigns recently? 28 must be the new 20, 'cause we keep getting sexier!
However, some people think that some of our campaigns "cross the line." Hmmm, if you were in a battle for your life—as the billions-with-a-"b" of animals in slaughterhouses, on fur farms, in laboratories, and in circuses are—wouldn't you want a defender to come to your rescue who is mighty ferocious and not afraid to take some flak? Well, in 28 years, PETA has never backed down from a fight. And believe you me, we can take a hit. Lawsuits, federal investigations, infiltrators, slanderous news articles … the list go on. Yet we're stronger than ever in our relentless battle for what's right, and we're gaining momentum every day.
From the boardroom to the classroom, we employ every tactic and tool we can get our eager hands on in the defense of animals, so send us your ideas and we might add 'em. Now, maybe you've only heard about the colorful tactics we use to catch the media's attention, but that's only a fraction of what we do. Here's a quote from PETA President Ingrid E. Newkirk:
Few people know the depth of our work, as it is mostly our stunts that make the news. While cruelty to animals is a serious matter that should elicit widespread public outrage, efforts to reach the public through more serious means often fall on deaf ears in a world in which sex sells and there are both a war and an economic downturn. . . . Forgive us our bikinis and our shock tactics, but our message that all beings—both human and nonhuman—deserve compassion and respect is one that we must work hard to make heard.
So, in celebration of our anniversary, we decided to give y'all some free goodies for showing us your stuff. Here's the contest—let us know your favorite PETA victories (you can totally cheat by going to this heartwarming site), and you'll be entered to win a copy of the acclaimed documentary I Am an Animal on DVD. It answers quite a few questions about PETA and our tireless president that you might have had—and it just might get ya fired up enough to join us! If so, we've got a bikini with your name on it!
Written by Missy Lane
Today is PETA President Ingrid Newkirk’s birthday. She will be turning … *muffled screams as blogger is pulled away from the computer by the hair*
Ahem. She will be turning a year older. Please join me in wishing her a very, very happy birthday. I’ll pick one commenter over the next two weeks to give away a free copy of the I Am an Animal DVD to. ‘Cuz birthdays make me feel generous like that. Happy birthday, Ingrid!
P.S. What? Come on, people. Like you guys have never kissed up to your boss? Give me a break.
P.P.S. Click here to read the terms and conditions of this contest. You’ll never guess who made me say that.
It's official in Switzerland at least, where, under a new federal law, failure to provide any "social" animals contact with others of their own kind will be legally defined as abuse. Better yet, the law requires training for prospective dog guardians and sets some common-sense guidelines regarding living conditions for many other animals, including animals on farms.
Of course, there's still room for improvement. No word yet on how the Swiss are going to square this law with the country's appalling cat-skinning trade, which has largely been ignored by authorities. The new regulations also require anglers to learn how to kill fish humanely. While it's encouraging that they're recognizing that fish are social animals, as a former fishing-contest winner, I know that the chances of finding a "humane" way to violently rip these animals from their environment to suffocate to death isn't bloody likely (though it is likely bloody).
Still, this new law is definitely a step in the right direction. It should be recognized and applauded, even while we keep up our efforts to bring about further reforms. Swiss chard for everyone!
Deflocked, baby. Deflocked.
To check out the archives of past strips, click here.
HBO’s I Am an Animal: The Story of Ingrid Newkirk and PETA was officially released on DVD today, so you should definitely put in an order for it if you haven’t seen it yet. Although it leaves out one kind of important point, the documentary is a fascinating look at the inner workings of PETA—from how the organization’s campaign ideas are born to what goes into an undercover investigation to what Ingrid Newkirk eats for breakfast.
To save you the trouble, the answer to that last question is “oatmeal,” but if you have some more pressing questions for Ingrid after watching this documentary, now’s the time to ask them. Either leave a comment with your (polite) question, or just e-mail it to me, and I’ll compile them all and pass them onto her. I’ll send her the questions over the next few days and post a blog with the answers in a couple of weeks’ time.
Yes, HBO’s I Am an Animal: The Story of Ingrid Newkirk and PETA was insightful, well-made, and powerful. I’ll admit that. But WTF, HBO? Didn’t you forget something kind of important? Did all those times I found an excuse to walk by the cameras when you were filming in the office mean nothing to you? Did that week we spent together camped out in a parking lot in New Orleans just completely slip your minds? Or is there something I missed?
As anyone who watched the documentary last night will know by now, this lowly PETA blogger does not appear anywhere in the final cut of the film. Like, there aren’t even any scenes where you can hear my voice off camera, or see me wandering by in the hallways. But with the exception of that massive, massive oversight on HBO’s part, the film, which aired for the first time yesterday at 8 p.m., was absolutely riveting. I won’t give away too much, since you can still catch it on HBO On Demand, but the film takes as its central theme the period leading up to the release of our Butterball investigation, and it provides a fascinating behind-the-scenes view of exactly how that campaign and a number of other PETA initiatives go from an idea in a meeting to a major media story that highlights the suffering of animals.
If you get a chance to watch the film, you’ll notice that not all the viewpoints expressed in the documentary are flattering about PETA, but as an organization, we’ve never been particularly concerned about flattery—our goal has always been to get people thinking seriously about animal rights, and whenever possible, getting them to sit down and actually confront the horrors that animals are subjected to in the meat, fur, animal-research, and other abusive industries that are so often kept hidden from the public. I Am an Animal accomplishes that in spades, and for that reason I would recommend it to anyone who wants to know more about why we do what we do. I just hope that when they make the sequel, they’ll give the people what they want and spend a little bit more time filming me.
As the air date for I Am An Animal, the HBO documentary about PETA, approaches, there is one important question in the minds of PETA staff members such as myself: “Am I in it?” Well, that’s what I’m wondering, anyway. From everything I’ve heard about this film, it’s an extremely compelling look at animal rights issues, PETA’s role in the movement, and more specifically, what makes PETA President Ingrid Newkirk tick. Evidently, it’s also very even-handed—it gives equal time to PETA’s detractors, and it explores opposing viewpoints and the various controversies that exist within the movement from an impartial perspective. Which is all well and good, but as we know, the real question here is, are there any scenes that have me in them? Like, even a shot where I’m standing around in the background will be fine.
Unfortunately, most of the world will have to wait for the answer to this burning question until Monday at 8 p.m. If you don’t have HBO, see if you can get yourself invited over to a friend’s house to watch it—it really does look like it’s going to be a winner. In the meantime, you can enter to win a copy of the DVD here, and by way of a teaser, here’s what Ingrid had to say about the documentary:
The folks at the Hamptons International Film Festival just announced that "I Am an Animal," the forthcoming documentary about PETA and Ingrid Newkirk, has been named Best Documentary! It's not actually coming out on HBO until next month and I haven't seen it, so I can't tell you all that much about it but I can definitely recommend checking out this interview with Ingrid and the film's director, Matthew Galkin. It looks like it's going to be a hell of a film. The HIFF people certainly seemed to think so anyway.
And the list goes on—to the tune of a 30-page complaint that we just submitted to the NIH, gently suggesting that they have a look into the way these people are spending their money.
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.
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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.