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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.
  • shez says:

    this is so so sad. how can anyone mistreat these poor animals this way !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • karen l.claypool says:

    i talk about this all the time to everyone its so important to stop this to many animals are suffering i think this is the most important thing you have done people just don’t think about it and they don’t want to know but they need too!!!!! god bless you all

  • Saucy says:

    Don’t worry Ingrid only a fool would believe them. You are a heroine and a Saint in my book not to mention an icon of the women’s movement. A living testament to what “one” person’s passion commitment and selflessness can do to heal a broken world. You’ve come a long way baby! The other night I went to an AR meeting in Manhattan and left feeling very distraught. It wasn’t just the graphic images of some hell hole dog mill in Arkansas but the disparaging remarks about PETA and you in particular. I was shocked. It hit me like a bolt of electricity to hear some kid who probably wasn’t even born when you began this organizaation paint you as some kind of monster as if you enjoy putting these animals down. All of the puppies and kittens that will never be born thanks to ABC and your efforts to pass legislation for mandatory spay and neautor all the downed cows pigs chickens goats geese lambs salute you.

  • Emily says:

    i work in a veterinary office and try to spread this word as well. it is only too true. these laws neeed to be put in place. it worries me though because we cannot even get owners to vaccinate their pets against rabies nevermind having them fixed. i think people should need to take a class on pet ownership before they are allowed to own a living breathing animal. after all a country is only as good as the way it treats its animals…

  • ALBIE says:


  • A true activist says:

    I applaud what PETA has done for animals with a few exceptions. First of all PETA recently said they want animals to be given MORE respect then Women. Is that acceptable? We should be humain to animals yes but aren’t humans in the long run animals to? We don’t force animals to expose themselves for press coverage or make degrading comments about them on adds.

  • viki says:

    im beyond sickend i believe any loose animal wondering the streets or left behind anywhere should be neutered or spayed 2 help pet population so this kinda crap don’t happen. and anyone caught letting this happen should be treated the same way. People animals have feelings too. Stop this stuff man.

  • Nadine Harris says:

    The article puts the blame where it belongs on us. People must neuter their pets and be responsible for them all their lives. It’s useless to blame the dogshow breeders. Why do we always have to spend time wagging our fingers at everybody else like Miss Grundy? The problem is just a lot more complex and difficult and some people can’t handle that. We should probably force sterilization on ourselves and on breeders. And by the way people are starving out there in this Republican economy too.

  • Jackie Marie says:

    Hello I own a pure bred German Shepherd and I totally agree with your breeding policy requiring an annual breeding permit also Sterilization. My German Shepherd has been fixed. I love the breed and will always have a German Shepherd howeverI bet many German Shepherds are also given back or abandoned because the owners have not researched what it requires to have this breed.They are a total responsibility as ALL dogs areI have had other breeds and mutts through my life and loved them dearly to the end so I am not anti muttsI just fell in love with the traits of GSDs but they need lots of exercise and dedicated training. He has never destroyed or chewed out of control because we have spent time with him kept him busy and especially through the chewing stage which we say goes until 2yrs. A dog no matter what breed is a commitment. For those who have dogs that are out of control it is because they have not taken the time with them. Six months of consistent training will give you a dog that is on their way to being a happy dog. It takes way longer to raise a child. To those who have abandoned or imprisioned their dogs after forclosure on their houses or to anyone who adopts a pet without first understanding the committment I am sadened by how much you missed out by not loving your pet enough to stick by it because they give back a million times the love you give them.

  • smithq says:

    Irresponsible owners kill shelter dogs

  • Bobbi says:

    It’s funny to read about responsible breeders and how these people are on here defending them. It doesn’t matter if the breeder says they’ll take the dog back or they only breed every 5 years! Geesh don’t you get it? For every puppy born another dog dies! That’s that people. There ARE purebreds on petfinder. There is absolutely NO NEED to breed dogs. Not one!If you have a home for a new dog you should be rescueing a shelter pet. If you search hard enough you will find what you are looking for. Puppies are in shelters too! And for those people who want an 8 week old puppy.. they are also in shelters. Stop being ignorant and look! OMG I’m so disgusted right now

  • Kris Shulfer says:

    to those of you who are responsible for any of these animals or all the other abused and unwanted i hope all your souls burn in hell!!!! just a constant reminder of how horrible humans are!!! that is why we the people who speak up for the animals send emails donate our time or money to this cause. which should not even be a cause at all!! it is commons sense. are some of you born without?? clearly there is many of you that are. these are some horrible pictures!! wake up people!!!

  • JOhn J says:

    What does feral mean?

  • Marnie says:

    Thank you very much for this article. Pictures like this have to be shown as much as possible to let the people realize what they do. It’s easy for critics to talk about doublethink ignoring the reality and everyone who gives a pet from a shelter a loving home makes a difference. You are right people are “signing some animal’s death warrant when they sign their credit card receipt”. And an animal is no toy to be treated like a doll and then left behind because another toy is more interesting. A pet licence would be good to prove responsibility first but how could that be established?

  • christine gonzales says:

    It really bothers me when people don’t think before choosing a pet. Especially if they have never experienced raising and training one. PEOPLE PLEASE!!! Do your research and always consider adopting a rescue animal they usually make the best companions…

  • Norma says:

    I love all animals and feel there are many responsible breeders that only want to better the breed. The puppy mill breeders are the ones that aren’t caring about these little ones they bring into the world. The dogs or cats are just bred for money and raised with other animals that we consider cattle.The animal doesn’t even know what it is like to receive love from a human. How do I know this you might ask? Well before I knew of Puppy Mills I bought one of these poor fur babies. She was placed into a very loving home as she just couldn’t get along with my other babies. This wasn’t her fault but the fault a a Puppy Mill breeder.The Puppy Mills need to be stopped!

  • Jay says:

    Best article! Remind the people again and again! Awful pictures to wake everyone up!

  • Valerie Ye says:

    hi this is my first time posting a comment on this site but though i seem to be too young to say anything.. because im only 13 i loved animals since i had my first dog … i watched documentaries about animals about how beautiful they are but i did not know the dark truth behing all the fur collectibles … the animals were skinned electrocuted sliced and everything possible… one day my dog was dognapped i was crying my heart out imagine what would happen to him … i went to Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals SPCA to report the loss of my dog when i went there my father then told me that animals were over populating and that they had to put some chemicals into the dog to let them die and dispose of them all over the country seeing the cruelty of China being able to sell the most amount of real fur in the world is really cruel! i hope to bring this to a end and hope everyone in the world can support it. i will protect animals when i grow up and help in the actions of peta…

  • Kelley says:

    I believe more pet owners would spayneuter if not for the cost. My vet charges almost $200.00 I would have paid this if I had to for this surgery which is a considerable amount of money for a lot of people. I was able to get my homeless kitten spayed for only $35.00 though a local shelter. I tell everyone I know about this service. Animal shelters and other concerned agencies need to do a better job advertising low cost spayneuter. I do believe most people in my area anyway want to do the right thing concerning spayneuter.

  • Susana Ferreira says:

    I think that everyone should see this pictures and read the stories of this poor animals before they bring an animal home even if it has been abbandoned before by an other person.

  • Danyle says:

    WOW people should start learning more about animals before buying them because they should all know what trouble they may cause and if the dog would be a family dog or cat. poeple need to be smarter about buying dogs or any animal and stop killing one of gods most precious creations

  • ocean17 says:

    heartbreaking… people should be more responsible than that. this issue is definitely not black and white.

  • Antonia Benjamin says:

    It’s exactly as I indicated in the past everyone say they “love” animals but how many can really “care” for them. “Loving” is a condition “caring” is a responsbility a huge one and people must take into consideration their lifestyle career and family life before acquiring any pet. These pictures are very very disheartening. As much as I would love to adopt another I can’t because my Labrador Retriever is very very possessive ferocious and territorial so another dog will suffer at my home. Yes I love but I would not be able to care for that pet. If people can let their pets go and leave them to suffer like that then it says a lot about their “human caring nature”. Whatever one does in this life will always comes back to them regardless of people or animals. God watches!

  • Johanna says:

    I think it’s important that people force themselves to see the images because hearing about animal abuse issues is one thing but actually SEEING what is going on is completely different. People need to be brave stop looking away and force themselves to see exactly what is going on. Seeing the realities of these situations shelter animals factory farms etc etc etc is what I believe ignites the fire in each person to hopefully…change.

  • Jackie says:

    I just saw another story on the news about bad breeders. I also had a friend tell me she got her pet from a breeder and when I mentioned this they insisted they got them from a good breeder. Sounds like they’re mighty defensive for someone who claims they didn’t do wrong. There is no need for breeders there already are thousands of animals needing homes in shelters. Breeders only care about money not the welfare of the pets. If they cared about the welfare of those animals they wouldn’t breed them in the first place. As far as any home is a good home regarding pets I don’t understand why people refuse to understand pets are like babies. Is it that they want to keep their notion that they’re a better species and their young matter more? Imagine if people felt that any home was a good home for a child and those children were abused like this? People wouldn’t stand for that is it cause humans can speak where animals have no voice? I think there should be a campaign saying “If a person abuses an animal it’s the same as abusing a baby” Then show a small child in a cast or something. That if these people can let this happen to animals then there’s no question they would be just as uncaring towards defenseless children.

  • helena says:

    let their guardian’s soul burn in hell…

  • Debbie Broomfield says:

    Previously I did not agree with euthanasia but have found that this issue is not “black or white”. Someone at work complained that PETA euthanize most of the animals. I did not know how to respond. Seeing this article helps. Our SPCA euthanize as a last resort due to sickness there isn’t enough funds to treat them likelihood of adoption feral cats and shear numbers. No one is proud of this they said and the problem lies with the owners not spaying or neutering we were told at an orientation. There is a time and a place for it unfortunately. My uncle explained it best saying when they are so sick you are doing them a favour. I didn’t think PETA euthanize as a first resort even when I heard there was a high percentage of euthanasia. I remember reading on your sight something about when they are brought to you they are so sick and far gone euthanasia is the only kind option. “No Kill” shelters to me aren’t realistic as sometimes even if you had money to treat every sick animal and had enough homes for feral and domestic cats animals don’t deserve to suffer as they are dying why prolong their agony? They are innocent and it would be a favour to them to end their suffering earlier by being humanely euthanized. That doesn’t mean that I’d be able to euthanize an animal it just means that I’d want their pain to end in the most peaceful way possible.

  • Melissa Fiocco says:

    I like the idea of mandatory spay neuture laws to keep the breed specific people happy the breeding permit. I passionately believe on top of this there should be a ‘pet ownership licence’ introduced through councils. To obtain one you would need to pay a fee to cover the admin costs have a home inspection to ensure your pet will be in a sound environment be required to sit a questionare so owners display a minimal standard of general knowledge good intentions of welfare. Also for dogs licensee’s where avail they must mandatory participate in at least 1 complete course of group obedience training socialization since this is the root of most dog attacks surrenering ‘problem’ dogs to shelters. Finally this system would weed out many owners who can’t be bothered or can’t afford to care for ownership needs to be respected as a privelege not a right afterall it’s taking someone elses life into your hands this person should need to prove themselves first. I hope you read my thoughts I welcome any opinions or feedback for this concept. Thank you

  • Domino says:

    While I completely agree with this I have to repeat what I said to the last post with horrible pictures I am sure I’m not the only visitor who is here to help animals. I am sure many of us don’t do any of these things buying from pet shops not spayingneutering letting our pets outdoors etc. I know I don’t so I don’t really need to see this horror. I had to cover my screen and scroll up very slowly covering with a book everything that led to a picture glancing away until out of the corner of my eye I saw the image was gone so I could read the text. I really wish you would put bigger warnings or not make the pics viewable until you hover over them or something for those of us who can’t stand the sight and are not doing anything to make the animals suffer. On the contrary!

  • Kathy says:

    I agree the people are responsible for the suffering of these animals… people are horrible.

  • Rad_Rosa89 says:

    Very powerful post! I wish people around the world weren’t so stupid and actually saw what they are doing to these lovable and wonderful animals.

  • E says:

    Very well written article again! I love the guiltshifting part….so true!

  • Jean says:

    I worked in No Kill. No Kill would turn these animals away. No Kill is either so stuffed with warehoused animals or doesn’t want to take animals that they have to spend money on so they TURN THEM AWAY. I quit No Kill because it causes and perpetuates suffering.

  • URKidding says:

    In addition “NKE” publically is against mandatory spayneuter. Could it be that NKE is in with the breeders because that is the only reason I can come up with. NKE stands with the breeders in the state capitols against mandatory spayneuter so you can see where NKE’s priorities are.

  • URKidding says:

    And it doesn’t help that the “No Kill Equation” philosophy lends credibility to those pet breeders and puppy mills. NKE says there are plenty of homes and therefore breeders now have a battle cry of there are enough homes for them to continue to breed more pets. NKE says that any home is better than being euthanized in the shelters. These are examples from those homes. NKE supports giving away pets for free from shelters following this misguided and dangerous philosophy or the “two fer one” sales. All this does is attract those who can’t afford to provide for pets. We are a disposable society and “free” means it can be disposed of. This is the results.

  • Sarah says:

    Thanks for all the amazing work you do PETA!!! 3 you all!! 3 Sarah

  • Nancy Rathburn says:

    I have never bought from a “pet shop” and never will. All of my pets have all been an unwanted pet of someone elsea stray I have taken in a rescue or from a shelter

  • Amy Richeson says:

    HOW IN THE WORLD DID THOSE ‘OWNERS’ NOT SEE THIER ANIMALS WERE IN NEED OF VETERIARIAN CARE?!?!?!? I cannot believe the ignorance and heartlessness of some people. This needs to be posted EVERYWHERE!!!!

  • Animal Lover :) says:

    How can people do that? its sick! animals do nothing to hurt us on purpose… only in self diffense! people are CRUEL!

  • jessica says:

    this post is very powerful however i do know a breeder that breeds a dog once every 5 yrs and realizes that it was not that animals choice to be born it was hers so for the rest of that animals life she is tied to it. and makes them sign a contract that they will return dog to her no questions asked at any time in that dogs life. also watches them when the owners are away her dogs will never end up in a kennel waiting for their owners to come home. i do not support breeding however lets be realistic and think about those people with the brand name jeans brand name purse brand name everything well theyre gonna want a brand name dog and want it to be 8 weeks when they get it they are not going to settle for a mix on petfinder so they will go buy one at a pet shop. im not saying breeding is a good thing but it should be regulated like you say cause some people want what they want and will not settle for anything less and thats when they go buy a puppy mill dog from pet shop or some back yard breeder in the newspaper this is just the reality of it all. until you can change those peoples minds this will always be a problem. i love peta i love animals my family has been rescuing dogs since i was 6yrs old but i am also a realist.

  • Wendy H. says:

    I wish people would really think about the decision before they even get an animal and then take the responsibilities seriously. I know the economy isn’t good but these kind of things have been going on for a long time. I agree that the laws should be tightened and i wish people would think about how they would feel if they were tortured and abandoned. Too many people in the world that just don’t care enough and that is pretty sad and disgraceful. Thankgod for organizations that do care.

  • Jessica says:

    OMG this why Icannot stand to watch Animal Cops cause I think I would get violent with the monsters that can do horrible things to animals. They are like babies in the sense that they know no evil and should not be subjected to it. I neuter and spay every animal I have ever brought into my home. My Husband said if I could I would get his as well.he is joking. I cannot save the world but I can donate my time or money to helping God’s creatures great and small.

  • maggie cortez says:

    Thanks Mrs. Newkirk for this information and for letting us know your point of view…maybe we have to be against petshops from now…

  • tina campbell says:

    dear god!!!!!how horrible!!!

  • Kurt says:

    This is heartbreaking…it’s also why I contribute!! So glad my Queenie did not end up like this. Guys PLEASE HELP PETA WITH THEIR WORK!!! Your animals depend on you like a child does a parent!!!!

  • pieranna says:

    Important very important for the present and for the future generations let’s talk talk talk. Let’s keep showing the real horror caused by human beings and not by the animals. Lets try to convince people who don’t know don’t want to know don’t care now but maybe tomorrow… This world MUST turn into something better! a big kiss from Italy where there’s a lot to do as well!!!

  • Jennifer says:

    My fingers are so confused on what I just read I am unable to truly express my sadness for these beings. I have friends who work at the Humane Society over whelmed is not the right word for this situation. To all those who cheer lead and assist. Thank You.

  • carolina says:

    Everyone should read this before stepping into a “pet” shop.

  • Lulu says:

    Wow. So eloquent so insightful so logical and so desperately needed to be passed along linked to Facebook pages etc. Can’t thank you enough for these powerful words that spell it out and for all the work you and everyone else at PETA does.

  • Aneliese says:

    Powerful post. I wish more people would care enough to know.