Written by Jeff Mackey
As harsh winter weather rages across the country, some of those facing the greatest risk are the dogs forced to live outdoors at the end of a chain, where they must endure some of the worst conditions that nature has to offer. Now, comedian and actor Patton Oswalt is stepping up to help them with a letter urging Newport News, Virginia, officials to follow the examples of dozens of other communities that have limited or banned the cruel and dangerous practice of chaining, thanks to a sustained campaign by PETA.
Patton is a native of Portsmouth, Virginia, which recently joined its neighboring communities of Smithfield, Virginia Beach, Hampton, and PETA's hometown of Norfolk in curtailing or outlawing tethering, leaving Newport News as one of the few holdouts in failing to protect "backyard dogs." And although he's revered as a comedian's comedian—watch his classic (but NSFW) takedown of the hideous KFC "sadness bowl" if you need proof—Patton knows that chaining is no laughing matter, explaining in his letter:
There is no worse punishment for a dog than a life sentence at the end of a chain. Forcing "man's best friend" to exist in the same barren patch 24/7 deprives these highly social pack animals of proper socialization and the opportunity to move around and explore. Often, they are deprived of necessities as basic as being able to reach food, water, or shelter—if they are even given any of those things. Every year, dogs injure or hang themselves on the chains that shackle them, while others grow aggressively protective of their tiny spaces. Chained dogs are nearly three times more likely to attack than dogs who are not chained.
What You Can Do
Please join PETA and Patton Oswalt in taking action for chained dogs. Work to pass a tethering ban in your community—and if you ever see a cold, lonely animal left outside, please speak up!
Written by Michelle Kretzer
Update: After being placed on
administrative leave, Officer J.N. Snoddy was convicted of one count of
misdemeanor cruelty to animals and fined.
The original post ran on December 15, 2011:
When Harrisonburg, Virginia, police
officer J.N. Snoddy was dispatched to render emergency aid to a cat who had
been hit by a car and was partially paralyzed, he apparently decided that,
instead of promptly and speedily driving the injured animal to the nearest
emergency veterinary hospital (just 30 minutes away), he would instead beat the
animal to death with his police-issued baton.
Good Samaritan and eyewitness Wayne
Meadows, who originally called to get help for the injured cat, was so
horrified by the officer's alleged conduct that he vowed to publicize what had happened
and make sure that no animal would ever be beaten and killed like that again.
Meadows called news outlets and
contacted PETA to share what he witnessed. Thanks to his actions, which prompted
a letter from PETA to
officials and enormous public outcry, the Virginia State Police
have launched a criminal investigation into Snoddy's alleged conduct.
This case shows the power of one
individual to bring about justice for animals. With an investigation now underway,
PETA is hopeful that the Harrisonburg Police Department (HPD) will take us up
on our offer to provide free training to all field staff in the humane and
legal handling of animal emergencies. HPD is also being pressured to establish
standard operating procedures for officers who evidently can't always be trusted
to use good judgment in animal-related cases.
If you ever witness cruelty to animals, and
authorities don’t do their job, don't hesitate to contact PETA for help.
Written by PETA
in a flooded pen.
Mine was one of the few cars early this morning headed into Hampton Roads, where PETA's headquarters
are located. The roads are at a standstill in much of Norfolk and Virginia
Beach as tourists and many residents, especially those with homes on the water,
head inland and north, many under mandatory evacuation notices issued late last
We are grateful to Virginia's Gov. McDonnell for
encouraging people to have a plan for their animal companions and to local news
agencies that have broadcast PETA's plea to include animals in disaster
preparations. We are grateful to the liquor and convenience store owners
who have hung our
posters on their doors, encouraging people to
make plans for their animals. While some may heed the call, we know from
experience that not everyone will listen. PETA staff has been working the
phones for three days now, making calls to residents in North Carolina and
lower Virginia, asking them to please, for the first time in their lives, take
their chained dogs inside and, if they evacuate, to take the animals with them.
Many are listening to our warnings, but for many impoverished residents who
have little ability to care for themselves and who do not own a car, no
provisions will be made for "backyard" or "hunting" dogs
and "the cats who live under the trailer." Rabbits in hutches, pigs,
and goats will be left to fend for themselves through high winds, heavy rain,
lightning, and who knows what else. The owner of one dog asked us for "a
heavier chain" to tie the dog down because his other dog had been swept
off her feet during Hurricane Isabel. Some people are giving their animals up
to us, which is far better than leaving them to drown, be hit by flying debris
or trees (there will be lots of those―pity the squirrels and their babies, who
cannot flee), or suffer other ugly fates.
Our building is in a flood plain, and the streets surrounding
it will be rivers by Saturday night, exacerbated by an already predicted high
tide coupled with the storm surge. We have waders and canoes at the ready.
We know that our dear outdoor cats, the ones who refuse to be coaxed into traps,
will be in trouble but will do their best to hunker down and go without
food, as there will be nowhere to put it for them. Our cats at PETA headquarters
are being evacuated today to our international intern house, all our vans have
been moved to high ground and are stocked with food and water to deliver to animals
in crisis after the storm passes, our sandbags are in place, we have generators,
and our computer systems are operating out of a remote location, so we are
ready and will continue to campaign and advocate for animals through and after
the storm. Extra staff is on call, and we are as prepared as we can be for what
Mother Nature is about to deliver.
We wish we could help the thousands of pigs in the huge factory
farms down river from us: They are very vulnerable.
We hope you will hold all of the animals in Irene's path in
your hearts and thoughts, and we appreciate your support as we prepare to weather
Much of our lifesaving work for animals in crisis—from preparing for
hurricanes like Irene to helping the animal survivors of devastating
earthquakes in Japan and Haiti —is supported by the
generosity of PETA's Animal Emergency Fund donors. You can help us respond to
disaster—both before and after it strikes—by making an urgent gift right now.
left rushing rivers where there was once a road and a
park at PETA HQ!
by Ingrid E. Newkirk
PETA is helping mass-transit passengers go
even greener. When Norfolk, Virginia's new light-rail train made its maiden
voyage past our headquarters, the Lettuce Ladies
were on hand—and on the balcony—to make the inaugural run memorable.
With their cabbage couture and "Climeat
Change" sign, the ladies showed passengers (and enthusiastic construction
workers) that dumping meat, the number one cause of climate change,
does even more good for the planet than taking public transportation. Riders
were waving, snapping pictures, and giving thumbs-up signs—and, we hope, they were
keener to be greener at their next meal as well.
easy being green—we'll help get you started with a free vegetarian/vegan starter kit.
by Michelle Sherrow
PETA's giant Freeda Fish was caught trying to sink a Lake Ridge, Virginia, "Fish Out." The Lake Ridge Parks & Recreation Association dumped 750 rainbow trout into a swimming pool, and over the next week, people can catch them for entertainment. But Freeda and her pals made waves at the event, passing out fliers explaining that being hooked hurts.
The nervous system in fish is virtually the same as in birds and mammals, and they feel and respond to pain. There's nothing sporting about piercing a fish's mouth and yanking the animal into an environment in which he or she slowly suffocates. Join Freeda and her buddies in letting fish be your friend, not your food, and out fish from your diet.
Written by Michelle Sherrow
PETA's Bea Arthur Dog Park (named for the eternally fabulous Golden Girl) has everything that dogs love: a big, grassy lawn for rolling and romping, a bin filled with toys to chew and chase, a water station, and an easy-access ramp into the Elizabeth River for dog-paddling to their hearts' content! But it's not just dogs who love PETA's park—apparently, Southern Living does too: The magazine included the park in its feature on the South's best dog parks!
Let's raise the woof in celebration by taking our canine companions to the nearest dog park tonight for some tail-wagging fun! And if you're ever in Norfolk, Virginia, check out the Bea Arthur Dog Park:
I guarantee that if you follow the rules, you and your mutt won't be disappointed.
Written by Lindsay Pollard-Post
As if we needed another reminder that wild animals are not wind-up toys, a capuchin monkey reportedly being kept as a "service animal" by a man in Chesapeake, Virginia, bit the man so severely that he had to be hospitalized. A video that aired on a local news broadcast showed the monkey's cage and the floor surrounding it sprayed with the man's blood.
Dangerous attacks are just one of the many downsides to keeping primates as "pets" (remember Travis?) and/or using them for assistance or therapy. Monkeys who are trained for Helping Hands, an organization that provides monkeys to quadriplegics and other physically disabled people, are torn away from their mothers within days or weeks of birth—separations that are extremely traumatic for both mother and baby. Because monkeys are known to be prone to biting, some or all of the monkeys' teeth are usually pulled. (The Chesapeake man apparently did not obtain his monkey from Helping Hands, because the monkey's teeth appear to be intact.)
Capuchin monkeys are intelligent and highly social animals who naturally live in groups and spend most of their time in trees. In the jungles and forests where they belong, capuchins raise families and have intricate communication systems. They race through tree canopies with astonishing speed and accuracy. Because they are extremely active, messy, and destructive, captive capuchins often spend much of their time confined, alone, to cages—a far cry, both literally and figuratively, from their vibrant jungle homes.
No one can debate the tremendous challenges faced by disabled people, but forcing monkeys to bridge the gap is not the most humane—or the safest—answer. With so many people having lost their jobs during the economic downturn, it seems like it would make more sense to hire them as "helping hands" than to continue to force monkeys into a lifetime of servitude far from their families and natural habitats.
Written by Alisa Mullins
Rain from Hurricane Ida is bearing down hard on us here in Norfolk, Virginia. And while we have recently been alerted that the post office might not be delivering our mail, (whatever happened to "rain or shine," guys?) at PETA, we don't let a little inclement weather keep us from saving animals!
We hope that everyone is keeping their furry friends warm and safe inside today. Check out PETA's tips for safeguarding animals during a hurricane and always be sure that you're prepared when a bit of weather comes your way!
Written by Shawna Flavell
Shark finning is one of the most disgusting practices of the already disgusting fishing industry. Sharks are caught, their fins are cut off, and they are either left to suffocate or are thrown back into the water to slowly bleed to death or be eaten by other marine animals. All this suffering is inflicted in order to produce horrid "delicacies" such as shark-fin soup.
Worldwide, there is (happily) a movement toward stopping shark finning, but fishing interests in Virginia and North Carolina are, well, swimming against the tide by putting pressure on legislators to exclude some sharks from a proposed federal law banning shark finning.
If you live in North Carolina or Virginia, please contact your senators and ask them to support the Shark Conservation Act of 2009 with no exemptions. To learn about more ways to help sharks and other endangered marine animals, read this and this.
Written by Jeff Mackey
In case you forgot how smart, social, and absolutely adorable pigs are, meet Sherlock. Found wandering down a rural road in Suffolk, Virginia, this little guy was captured and taken to the local animal shelter:
When he was found, Sherlock was still a baby, but he was already castrated and his tail had obviously been docked. That means that this plucky little piglet likely fell off a truck headed to a growing/finishing barn—which is what the piggy flesh industry calls the factories that are used to fatten up little pigs like Sherlock for slaughter. On factory farms, piglets are taken away from their moms when they are less than 1 month old. Workers cut off their tails, clip their teeth with pliers, and castrate the males—all without painkillers. The animals spend their entire lives in extremely crowded pens on tiny slabs of filthy concrete. It gets even more heartbreaking when you factor in the abuse that these animals face: A recent undercover investigation of an Iowa pig factory farm, which supplies piglets to Hormel, documented that workers beat pigs with metal rods and sexually abused them with canes.
When one of our fieldworkers saw the headline about Sherlock in the Suffolk paper, she immediately went to work to find this guy a wonderful home. Click here to see how Sherlock's story ends!
Written by Amy Elizabeth
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.