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Placing the Blame Where It Belongs

Written by PETA | February 12, 2010

I know the photos are upsetting, believe me. But you have to understand a problem in order to fix it. And that’s what we want you to do—to start understanding the real source of the problem. The killing of homeless and unwanted animals isn’t going away, and it’s not because animal shelters don’t care (they do, and many workers pour their hearts into their work). The real reason—and here’s the truly shocking part—is that many dog and cat lovers are the problem. That’s right—the very people who should care the most are often the ones who create the problem.


It took several days to trap this hound, who likely had gotten lost while hunting or had been abandoned at the end of hunting season. He was suffering from a crushed femur, a dislocated leg, heartworms, hookworms, and Ehrlichiosis, which is similar to Lyme disease.


Shelter workers will tell you that dogs and cats come through their portals with embroidered blankets, painted toenails, or folders filled with “papers”—signs that the animals were once valued. Some were bought on a whim as Paris Hilton–style “arm candy,” and others were surrendered because their guardians went off to college; went on vacation; moved north, south, east, or west; married someone who was allergic; got divorced; or couldn’t be bothered to cope with the animal’s barking, fur, size, or normal physical and psychological needs. (Surprise—animals actually need to be fed and walked, and their litterboxes need to be cleaned too.)


This feral cat was likely attacked by another animal; the attack left the tendon in her leg painfully exposed.


Many of the “dumped” are living, breathing testaments to the collapse of sub-prime mortgages and loans. We acquired beyond their means, so when times got hard, pink slips arrived, and bills mounted, thousands of Princesses and Peppers and Peaches ended up on the street, literally and figuratively. And they’re still pouring through the doors of animal shelters—the ones, that is, who weren’t left in abandoned houses, later to be found barricaded inside closets or on chains in backyards.


This dog’s penis had been prolapsed for over a week and had become painfully infected. The dog’s guardian had no money for vet care and called PETA to help ease the animal’s suffering.
Pit Bull


Some refugees from human failures and home foreclosures will languish in a shelter cage for life. You can see them, turning in ever tighter circles; barking frantically at every visitor, as if to recount their story; or sitting with their backs turned to the world, unresponsive to sweet talk, all hope gone. Every one of these anxious individuals must wonder how it is that this guardian or that family, their family, their person, who they believed would always be there to care for them, has vanished, leaving them confused and displaced in an unfamiliar and uncomfortable cell.


This cat’s guardian allowed her to roam outdoors. She disappeared for several days, and when she came back her leg had been degloved and all the bones were exposed.


Unwanted dogs and cats are, in their own way, a bit like carbon emissions: They are invisible to most of us because they are kenneled in animal shelters that are often tucked away on the wrong side of the railroad tracks, in impoverished neighborhoods, or down country roads. They are hidden, unlike the animals in bright, shiny mall pet shops. Like carbon emissions, they are the product of careless and egocentric lifestyles and a reluctance to connect the dots.


A hoarder had allowed this kitten to suffer from a prolapsed rectum.


This year, animal shelters will be forced to kill millions of wonderful dogs and cats for want of one thing: a good home. Why? Because many of the people in your local dog park or veterinary waiting room—people who truly love their dogs and cats—have behaved irresponsibly by obtaining an animal from a pet shop or breeder and failing to have him or her spayed or neutered.

These are the people who are responsible for taking the lives of homeless animals—not your local shelter workers. For, just as buying clothes that were made in sweatshops supports child labor, buying a dog or cat from a breeder or pet shop contributes to the death rate in shelters. Let me be clear: There is no such thing as a responsible breeder.

When people buy a dog or cat, perhaps they think that homeless animals don’t factor into their purchase, or perhaps they are honestly oblivious to the hundreds of thousands of animals who are waiting on death row at that very moment. I’m sure that such people don’t see themselves as signing some animal’s death warrant when they sign their credit card receipt, but that’s what they are doing. They have room in their home and heart that could be filled by rescuing one of those wonderful, loving dogs or cats who were booted out, got lost, or fell victim to a human’s accident or death. They would have felt that animal’s gratitude for years to come.


This feral cat was found roaming the streets and suffering from serious neck wounds that had been left untreated.


There is one more way in which people add to the crisis, and that is by fooling themselves into thinking that it doesn’t count if they breed their dog or cat just one time. But it does matter very much. Please join PETA in calling on the governors of all 50 states to endorse mandatory spay-and-neuter laws that would require dogs and cats to be sterilized unless their owners purchase an annual breeding permit—the cost of which would fund low-cost spay-and-neuter services.

Everyone who breeds their dog or cat believes that their friends will flock to take home the new arrivals. After all, that animal is the prettiest and smartest in the world. But again, a pound pup or shelter Siamese could fill that space (to say nothing of the spaces that will later be taken up by the descendents of those new puppies and kittens if they aren’t spayed or neutered before they’re given away). And if homes can’t be found for all those adorable pups and kittens, people find themselves handing them over the counter at the animal shelter accompanied by those six conveniently guilt-shifting words, “You won’t kill them, will you?”

Written by Ingrid E. Newkirk

Commenting is closed.
  • I have seen it says:

    These pics are horrible and the problem is real. Another real problem is dogs kept in kennels but the dozens soley to supply their A- blood to vets and clinics for other dogs that need surgery or transusion etc. What about the healthy dogs in the kennels? Cant vets etc find another way to get the blood? I dont see anything about this problem on this site anywhere.

  • Sam says:

    Why would people allow this? I don’t understand, it’s the epitome of cruelty and brutality, and I just can’t wrap my head around how people who do this can roam freely while a helpless and defenseless animal suffers a fate worse than death. I truly wish that humans start living up to what it actually means to be human, and abolish heinous things like this.

  • pat says:

    I work a a daycare for dogs and volunteer at the SPCA. My wonderful boss agreed to take care of a pregant recused abused pit/mix. SShe was so skinny and somone had been putting cigerettes out on her head. She had nine adorable puppies. They are two weeks old. After they find good homes, she is going to keep the mother. I knew she wouldn’t be able to resist. People can be so inhumane and I will never understand it.

  • Camille R says:

    Horrible how people treat animals! Neuter your animals and if they get sick you take care of them! Hello?!?! People who neglect and did this to their animals will pay one day…..they have to, it’s just not fair!

  • cleo says:

    I cant begin to express the sadness and disgust at humans who treat animals so bad. But shelters too have issues, I went to an animal shelter to adopt a dog and I was prepared to take the dog that had been there the longest so it wouldn’t be killed, it was going to be a gift for my mother for her birthday… mind u, i’m 27 years old and a psychologist, yet the shelter turned me down because they said they have to meet everyone who live’s in the home where the animal was going to be taken. I offered to bring my mother, but told her my younger brother is away at university, and she said sorry, you cant adopt. So who know’s maybe they have put that beautiful dog to sleep because she couldn’t meet my 19 year old brother who is away 9 months of the year at uni… where do I place the blame now??

  • teri says:

    This makes me really sad:( Absolutely awful i hate people how can somebody do this??!?! Common people,I feel so weak and so miserable that there is nothing you can do about it and we can only speak empty words because people do this all around the world and they’ll keep doing it…what could we possibly do?! i feel really helpless:/

  • Channy Smith says:

    this is totally disgusting…. Rather not say what i would do to people that does this to animals.

  • Ariel Criss (Nee Robinson) says:

    absolutley disgusting what people can do to these poor animals. they dont have a voice, they cant plead for help, the least we can do is give them home or help them. i feel like people dont have hearts, absolutley awful. i felt sick. i couldnt even look at the pictures for one second.

  • Emilovesyou917 says:

    This made my cry! How could someone treat animals this way? It breaks my heart to see the way some people treat animals.. 🙁

  • delia says:

    OMG!! how can you do this to helpless animals!

  • Christy Pack says:

    I literally just threw up. I am so disgusted with the way some ppl can treat animals like this, with no second thought or remorse at all. They deserve to have the same crap done to them.

  • Georgia says:

    I can’t believe people would let these things even happen. People would not allow something like that to happen to humans so why let it happen to animals. It’s truly horrible.

  • Mallory says:

    I just honestly feel sick when I see this kind of thing. I have a cat of my own and I love him to bits; I just can’t imagine that these animals can have been neglected so badly.

  • damon1864 says:

    i have 4 cats, all of them indoor and not allowed outside. I’m not rich, I’m balancing one at a time getting them their shots and fixed, but I would NEVER abandon them because i couldn’t afford their care. If somebody gets hurt, I will come up with the money – beg, borrow, steal…..if one of my kids got hurt I wouldn’t just leave them that way….how can people think like that?

  • VegCat says:

    Absolutely true. As much as I hate the idea of euthanize a healthy perfectly lovable animal I’d choose that option instead of let them suffer pain or live on those deplorable conditions. The problem is that our species keeps on thinking that is all about the “humans” that we’re the only ones able to speak, think and feel… blame it on civilization or religion, it’s a fact. We’ll keep on seeing this for as long as people don’t have a change of consciousness. Education could be the solution… until that the only thing we can do is spread the word and hope that people open their eyes.

  • Kylie says:

    I looked at my cat when reading this and looking at those photos and just burst into tears. I am under no delusion of why this happens to animals. People just don’t care. It can’t be a lack of education anymore. We all know what happens to animals when they are abandoned. If a person sees a pet as an object like an ornament rather then a living breathing feeling creature then naturally it will be disposable. That is the biggest problem perception. How Manu people view animals as no less then a food source? We have been exploiting animals forever and even though some people view domestic animals with a higher regard then farm animals they are not immune to our greed and selfishness. Ask yourself if you feel this treatment of domestic animals is abominable to you then what makes it acceptable if it were a cow or a pig in these photos? What makes an elephant more worthy of life then a chicken? Again perception is key here too. Out perception of all things furry feathered wooly and finned needs to change. It can’t be okay to rage against cruelty to the family fido but contribute to the ongoing cruelty of all the animals that end up on our dinner plates night after night. We all need to wake up and treat all life with compassion and kindness including out own species.

  • Yu Li says:

    Simply shocking. What’s happening people? Where’s your humanity? Change & act today in a responsible manner.

  • zoe says:

    how could andybody see an animal be in soo much pain and not do anything

  • Marcia says:

    I would just like to say that the amount of times my cat has attacked me is uncountable. She even went as far as attacking my mom and giving her cat scratch fever where her hand was swollen to twice the size and she had to get anti-biotics through the IV for 5 weeks. Point is, we still have her. She still sleeps in my bed. She still attacks when she gets scared. I couldn’t part with her. For whatever reason. She’s still my baby girl.

  • stephanie says:

    The reason is we humans can be the worst beings when we talk about cruelty, we can inflict such pain, and this is all about a lack of respect of ourselves as a part of nature and life itself in general.

  • Marcela says:


  • Bergman Okoye says:

    These people should be punished with the same kind of punishment, for what they have let their pets go through.

  • Natalia says:

    oh my god… What a nightmare … People! how can you do this to helpless animals! STOP IT!Please… *crying

  • Marycke says:

    How can people be so cruel! I stay on a smallholding in SA and I love animals. We have lots of animals, chickens and dogs and a cat and more birds. All of them knowing we love them, if they are sick we take them to the local vet. Even had a hedgehog, hawk and some wild rabbits that we saved and doves and any bird or animal that is sick. Nearly everybody want there kids to come see the animals. I love it that city children can see some animals.

  • Jessie says:

    This drives me crazy, every time I go into a shelter and read the backgrounds of these abandoned pets. When time was tough and money was tight, I cut MY expenses, not my cat’s. It’s baffling that you could leave what is ultimately a family members behind. As soon as I am done with my degree I plan to start working at shelters and promoting this on a larger scale. For now I can only reach the people around me, but we all can help in different ways per our situation.

  • sjaniga says:

    Truly awful pictures! So sad to think about all the abandoned animals!

  • Lexa says:

    I have seen worse. I am a Vat assistant, and while in school I worked at the HS. Some of the things that I saw was horrible. I would never give up my pets because I am moving. I did however have to re-home 2 of my dogs because my divorce left me broke and homeless, and they deserved better then I could give. I researched the people who took my dogs. I still to this day get emails and pics of them. People who allow the things above should be treated the way they treat their pets. I think Laws should be harder on animal neglecter’s and abusers.

  • Mary says:

    Craigslist will not even let me give friendly warning in the pet section. My posts get flagged and now they have kicked me off and I had to start another acct under a diff name/addy. I hate CL.

  • Kate says:

    This has got to be one of.the most horrible.and saddest.things that I have ever heard:(

  • Alejandra says:

    How can people let this happen? Animals are not things, they have feelings. They DO NOT deserve to be treated in such a cruel way! Some people just shouldn’t be allowed to have pets, they don’t deserve them!

  • Leslie says:

    Well, a victim of the economy myself. I have 2 cats that I will soon have to part with. After exhausting all avenues to rehouse them. I myself am looking at emergency shelter because I’m almost out of money to pay rent. Had them for 10 years and got them from a local rescue group at a Petco event. They’re fixed and wonderful. I don’t want them put down but know the risk is there. No doubt, I’ll have an emotional break down when I have to part with them. We are the problem and the solution. Sometimes life throws you a curve BOULDER!

  • Ieva says:

    omg its so sad… i wanna cry! why the world is so wrong.. hate that!

  • Aleksandra Petrova says:

    This makes me sick. How can people treat innocent animals like this?! They are living beings for goodness sakes!

  • Eric says:

    Worse treatment can be seen by watching Animal Planet. But what’s even slightly wierder is sometimes seeing animal planet commercials during some of these shows exposing how crude and cruel the average person can be toward animals. The contents of some of the commercials show advertising the sale of bacon burgers etc. from large chaineateries. S.I.C.!

  • Grace says:

    I’ve been monitoring craigslist in Pensacola FL the past few days. I cannot tell you how many people there are giving up animals because they are moving or had a baby etc. It seems to me that many people get pets on a whim and then later decide they are just too much trouble to deal with. I have moved alot in my life and never once did I ever consider giving up my pets. Where I go they go and if they can’t go somewhere than neither do I. It breaks my heart to see people dispose of family pets like they were last years shoe fad.

  • priyal pateria says:

    after seeing this can any1 behave with his pets like this.. please god help every1

  • Tensie Brackee says:

    This is so terrible.

  • Harriet Soriano says:

    I feel PETA does a lot of good for our animals. They have their hands full as do all the other shelters in this world. Animal food is costly and veterinarians charge too much money same as medical doctors for humans. This makes it hard for some who love animals as I do to keep them and help them. I feel if costs were less then more people could keep their pets. I feel if an animal can’t have love food and health care a decision needs to be made. It is hard and I wouldn’t put any of mine down unless there was no other choice. Great article and In my life I have seen much more gruesome images of deseased and mamed and injured animals. I take in strays as long as they are socially nice I let them stay.

  • Gene Sengstake says:

    Thank you for saying what needs to be said. Why is it so hard for people to understand that “We” are the problem???

  • Rachel says:

    Thank you PETA for all the difficult work you do!