Written by Alisa Mullins
If you've ever wondered why we have a
dog and cat overpopulation
crisis, which is so bad that 6 to 8 million "pets" enter animal shelters every year—and that's not even counting the millions of strays
who never make it to shelters—look no further
than Halley. This mother dog was left to survive as best she could after her
owners moved away and left her behind like an unwanted sofa on the curb.
Halley miraculously managed to survive
by herself for several months until a passerby called PETA to report having
seen her roaming the streets. She appeared to be nursing puppies, but neighbors
who had heard the puppies crying weeks earlier hadn't heard a peep out of them
in nearly a month. We feared the worst.
Our cruelty caseworker advised the
passerby to set up a feeding station for Halley at a vacant home in order to discourage
her from straying further away, and we got in touch with local members of
who set about trying to trap the skittish dog. When they arrived at the
property to set up a humane box trap, they found the puppies hiding under the
The little ones were whisked off to a
veterinarian. After several days, the volunteers managed to trap Halley, and
she was spayed and reunited with her pups. The family—minus two puppies who
have already been adopted—is being boarded while permanent homes can be found. (You
can see more photos of them on Unchain Oklahoma's Facebook page.)
If you suspect that an animal has been
abandoned or is being neglected or abused, please err on the side of compassion.
Always call authorities. If you're mistaken, the worst that can happen is that
you'll put a few more miles on an officer's odometer. And if the authorities
don't respond, contact PETA.
Written by Jeff Mackey
As viewers of the popular reality shows about hoarders can likely confirm, peering inside the homes of people who suffer from the psychological compulsion to collect things has a certain morbid attraction, until you realize the toll it takes on the families of the afflicted—and it's far worse when the "things" they're collecting are living, feeling beings.
Animal hoarding is a serious and growing problem, with hoarders taking on far more animals than they can properly care for. The number of reported cases is on the rise, leading the Animal Legal Defense Fund to call hoarding "the number one animal cruelty crisis facing companion animals in communities throughout the country."
Chillingly, the so-called "no kill" movement propagated by the likes of Nathan Winograd offers cover for these disturbed individuals, many of whom claim to be "rescuing" the animals and attempt to justify the suffering that they cause as a matter of principle. A Los Angeles Times blog post reported that a quarter of the roughly 6,000 new hoarding cases reported each year in the U.S. consist of supposed "shelters" and "rescues."
Animals kept in crates at a “no kill” shelter.
Even when rescues and animal shelters aren't hoarding animals themselves—like the self-proclaimed animal "hospice and rehabilitation center" called "Angel's Gate" and the now-defunct "Sacred Vision Animal Sanctuary"—they all too often give away animals to anyone who will take them, including hoarders, to manipulate their euthanasia statistics, regardless of what tragedy that translates into for the animals.
Here are just a few recent examples:
The failure of "no kill" animal shelters and rescues to address the problems facing homeless animals—and often making matters worse—is why PETA remains focused on the solution to the animal overpopulation crisis: creating a no-birth nation. PETA's fleet of mobile low-cost veterinary clinics (responsible for sterilizing 10,564 animals in 2011 and almost 80,000 so far since 2001!) and our advocacy of strong spay-and-neuter legislation are key to keeping animals out of the hands of hoarders and other people who don't have their best interests at heart and guaranteeing that every animal born has a loving, permanent home awaiting him or her.
Volunteer to help your local animal shelter screen potential adopters and placement partners. Animal shelters can contact PETA for placement-partner applications and agreements. Please also be sure to spay or neuter your animal companions and encourage others to do the same—it's the best way to end the need for animal rescues altogether!
The length of the current economic downturn has taken its toll
both on people—many of whom are struggling to find housing
and jobs—and on
the animals who depend on them. As a result, animal shelters are receiving record numbers of abandoned
stretching their already limited resources to capacity.
Overcrowding at a limited admission (no-kill) shelter
These problems are intensified by the animal overpopulation
crisis, which, even in a strong economy, causes many animal shelters to
struggle with the burden of homeless and unwanted animals. Unlike complicated
fiscal policy, though, the solution to this problem is simple—by implementing
and enforcing mandatory spay-and-neuter laws,
communities can reduce animal populations to manageable levels, ensuring that
every animal can be cared for. PETA not only is working to promote the passage
of such legislation but also operates several mobile spay-and-neuter clinics,
sterilizing 10,564 animals in 2011 alone and nearly 80,000 to date!
Sadly, at this critical time, many animal shelters are implementing
policies without first having reduced the number of unwanted animals (though some
have now wised up).
Many of these animal shelters are betraying animals by adopting guidelines that
make the problem much worse, such as requiring appointments and admission fees
for people to surrender animals, turning away strays who aren't well socialized
because they are not adoptable (even if they're at risk of being harmed by people
who consider them a nuisance), forcing people to wait until space opens up to
take in any more animals, refusing to accept animals from outside a certain
town or region, and giving animals away for free without proper screening.
These horribly misguided practices are a blueprint for
disaster. The failure of these limited-admission policies has been proved again
and again, as in these stories from 2011:
Companion animals depend on us to take care of them, which
is why PETA accepts all animals who
need help—without requiring a fee or an appointment—whether they are suffering
from a terminal illness that requires euthanasia that their guardians can't
afford, were abandoned
during a natural disaster,
or were injured in Afghanistan and brought stateside by a caring soldier.
Is there an animal shelter that's turning away animals in
your community? Find out—and
try to ensure that it does what's right to help animals. Find out how PETA Saves Animals.
Written by Lindsay Pollard-Post
and other Virginia animal shelters have just submitted to the state the numbers
of animals they received, found wonderful homes for, reunited with guardians,
had to euthanize,
or were able to release back into nature in 2011. Because numbers can't begin
to tell each animal's story, let me describe one of those animals: Pepper.
emergency fieldworkers are on call 24/7 and leap into action even when that
means getting up in the middle of the night to drive long distances in response
to calls about suffering, abandoned, neglected, and abused animals. Since we
refer healthy, highly adoptable animals to traditional, well-trafficked animal shelters,
the animals we focus on with our hands-on work are the most abused, neglected,
and underserved, usually the "unadoptables."
months, PETA tried to engage local law-enforcement officials to take action on a
monstrous woman who kept a terribly neglected and miserable dog named Pepper,
who needed urgent veterinary treatment, penned in her backyard. When PETA found
her, Pepper had been languishing in the filthy backyard cage for years and had slowly deteriorated,
yet the woman—a nursing assistant—couldn't be bothered to provide her dog with basic
vet care and dignity.
PETA obtained custody of Pepper and whisked her to a veterinarian, who
determined that Pepper was suffering from dehydration, "severe emaciation"
(the veterinarian's exact words), a severe eye infection that caused both of
Pepper's eyes to ooze discharge, a chronic hematoma (blood pocket) on her left
ear, chronic dermatitis, a raging flea infestation (more than 500 live fleas
were picked off her body), extremely worn-down teeth from biting at her own
infected skin, toenails on all four feet so curled inward that they were embedded
into the skin (causing an infection), a large mammary tumor, and cancer. For
Pepper, euthanasia was a sweet release from the painful existence that she'd endured
for so long. PETA's fieldworker stayed with Pepper as she peacefully slipped
away from this world.
filed cruelty charges against Angela Williams, Pepper's owner. This month,
there was a small measure of justice meted out for Pepper when a judge found Williams
guilty of cruelty to animals. The
judge said that the woman's treatment of Pepper was as inexcusable as it would be
to know that one of her patients had had bed sores for months and do nothing
we wish that Pepper's heart-wrenching case was unusual! PETA's caseworkers take
in scores of animals who are in equally miserable, and even worse, condition almost every
single day. For many of these suffering souls, the only kind thing to do is to
hold them, make a fuss about them, tell them that they are loved, and let them
a dog is kept penned or chained in your neighborhood, please take action. Urge the homeowner to allow
the dog indoors and make him or her a part of the family. Offer to take the
lonely dog for walks. Report abuse and neglect. Get the dog fixed, vaccinated,
and dewormed. Look for other medical needs. Together, let's help wipe out the
cruel practice of tossing dogs in the backyard and forgetting about them.
Please push for anti-chaining
legislation in your city or state.
Written by PETA
at a "no kill" cat shelter before coming to PETA. There, I saw firsthand
why "no kill"
policies do not work. The cats at the shelter were confined to small
cages, and many had been there for years, including one poor 11-year-old
girl who had been caged since kittenhood.
PETA's Community Animal Project freed this feral cat from her suffering, who had been dragging herself along the street with a broken leg.
This shelter even caged
is as cruel as keeping a squirrel or a raccoon in a cage. One cat, Ginger,
haunts me to this day. Terrified of humans, she cowered in her litterbox 24/7,
never playing or showing any sign of happiness. The only time that she ever
left her litterbox was to hiss and spit at people who came near her cage. Is
this a worthwhile life for any animal?
my time there, the shelter received dozens of calls each day from people who
wanted to surrender their cats, but shelter workers never said "Yes" to
a single person. It was always full. I
can't count the number of calls that ended with some variation of, "Well,
if you can't help me, I'm just going to turn him loose." An outdoor life
is no life for a cat. Cats outside are at risk for disease, abuse, being hit by
worse. And other people simply dumped cats on the shelter's doorstep. One
person stuffed 13 cats into two
carriers and took off.
This is why, instead of "no kill,"
I refer to these shelters as "limited admission." It's much more accurate,
and it doesn't demonize open-admission shelters, which have the Herculean task
of taking in all animals, no matter how old, sick, aggressive, injured, or
otherwise unadoptable they may be, even when it would be easier to simply turn
Written by Sarah
Preston, intake manager for PETA's Cruelty Investigations Department
Written by Heather Faraid Drennan
of the perks of working in PETA's offices is that we get to share our work
space with the dogs
who go to work with their guardians. As enjoyable as it is for us, though, the
dogs are the ones who benefit the most because they aren't left home alone all
day. Here are the stories of three of the dogs who help make working at PETA a
little bit more fun.
was adopted from a local animal
four years ago and now has a full-time job overseeing PETA's office in Oakland,
California. He loves getting to see his canine best friend, Monster, and greets
everyone with a hearty "Arooorooroo!" His favorite part of the job is
helping with outreach events, at which he attracts people to the PETA booth
by looking irresistible in his PETA doggie T-shirt.
PETA Community Animal
staffer found Sophie chained
to a car with no food or water when she was about 6 months old. She was living
in a mound of trash, and her rescuer at first mistook her for an old tire until
she saw the dog's frightened little eyes. Now 10 years old, Sophie accompanies PETA
Senior Vice President Lisa Lange to PETA's Los Angeles office, which has helped
bring Sophie out of her shell and provided her with things to think about and
watch and the opportunity to learn that not all humans are cruel.
Maguire was a puppy, his family moved and left him at an animal shelter. He was
shy and depressed and, since he'd been largely confined to a basement, was not very
comfortable with the outside world. A PETA Foundation staffer who volunteered at the
shelter adopted Maguire, and when she took him home at 10 months old, he didn't
even know how to play with toys. Now 12 years old, Maguire has been part of PETA's
Norfolk office crew for years.
you can't take your pup to work, be sure to go home at lunchtime or hire a dog
walker or neighbor to let
your dog out.
No one wants to stare at the walls for eight hours or more, let alone "hold
it" for an entire workday. One way to minimize the loneliness of these
pack animals is to have more than one dog so that they can keep each other
Sophie is a rescued dog who accompanies PETA Vice President Lisa Lange to work at PETA's Los Angeles office. Not to be outdone by Bubbles, Sophie has also written to Kris Kringle, asking him to help less fortunate dogs.
Written by Michelle Kretzer
recently welcomed Daniel
to his show, a 5-year-old dog
who survived being gassed
at an Alabama animal control facility.
Daniel was crammed into a gas chamber in Florence, Alabama, with four other
dogs. Carbon-monoxide gas was pumped into the chamber for a "standard 17
minute cycle." When workers opened the chamber door to remove dead animals,
they found Daniel standing among the dead dogs, alive.
Death is not quick for dogs and cats who
Locked in dark boxes and slowly suffocated, the dogs commonly scream and the
cats go berserk, trying to claw their way out. Many go into convulsions as they
struggle for air and try to escape. Daniel must have witnessed a horrifying
scene inside the gas chamber, and he is living proof that this crude method doesn't
always work. Some animals must be gassed repeatedly; others have been found stumbling around in landfills after being
mistaken for dead and dumped there.
is not the fault of animal shelters that animals must be put to death, but if
the most we can offer homeless animals is an exit from this world, then we owe
it to them to ensure that it is painless, peaceful, and dignified. If your
local animal shelter or pound is putting animals down with any method other
than an intravenous injection of sodium pentobarbital (the most humane method),
urge the shelter management to switch (see PETA's tips for helpful information).
You may have the law on your side if you live in one of the 18 states that have outlawed some
forms of gassing. If not, write
letters to your legislators demanding a law against these
holidays. A couple of months filled with holiday cheer, carols, and snowflakes—followed
by a flood of animals being dumped
because after the hustle and bustle—after discovering the cute little puppy under
the tree wearing a big red bow—come the puddles on the carpet, the walks in the
cold, the chewed-up shoes, and the vet bills. So when the kids who begged, "I'll
take care of him every day, I promise,"
are too busy playing their new video games to care for their new puppy, Rover
is tossed aside like last year's Call of Duty.
need a stay-at-home person to housetrain them properly (they can't "hold it"
all day) and multiple walks every day, even when it's cold and rainy. Both
puppies and kittens need lots of patience and understanding, room to grow
physically and mentally, and a fat wallet for sterilization
and all the shots, wormings, grooming, food, medicine, and toys.
who give animals as gifts
are essentially sticking about 16 years' and thousands of dollars' worth of
responsibility under the tree. Sounds festive, right?
If a family member or friend is genuinely ready and
willing to adopt an animal, wait until the holiday hoopla is over and offer to
accompany them to your local animal shelter where you can help pick out a
wonderful companion for life, not just for Christmas.
buying a dog over the Internet sight unseen for a staggering $7,500, a Long
Island man added insult to injury by sending the dog on a terrifying 3,000-mile journey
back to the breeder in Washington state less than a week later. The dog, who was likely confused
and disoriented after the initial cross-country flight, had failed to adjust
immediately to her strange new environment, so the man essentially returned her
like a sweater he'd ordered from L.L.Bean, despite the fact that the breeder
refused to take the dog back and reportedly said that he would not pick her up at the airport. (The
breeder did eventually claim the dog but only after she'd been forced to spend
the night at an airport boarding facility.)
dog buyer could have saved himself a lot of trouble—and
the dog a lot of trauma—if he had just
taken his family to the local animal shelter, where they could have chosen from
among a plethora of great dogs. But considering that he was dumb enough to hand
over an exorbitant amount of money to a breeding operation that exacerbates the
animal homelessness crisis, allowed the dog only six days to settle into her new home, and was inconsiderate
enough to ship her off to an unknown fate in an airplane's dangerous cargo hold after tiring
of her, any responsible shelter worker would now lock the doors to this man.
for those of us who don't view animals as disposable accessories, animal shelters are the perfect place to make a permanent love connection.
Written by Michelle Sherrow
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.