New York Teen Is Charged With a Felony for Setting Fire to a Parakeet

July 2002

A Long Island, New York, teen coated his family’s parakeet with hairspray and set fire to her, then posted images of the burning animal and of himself–laughing and giving the thumbs-up sign–on the Internet. Although New York state law defines such an act as felony cruelty to animals, the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office opted to file only misdemeanor charges.

An outraged humane officer contacted PETA, and we went to work. We contacted out network of activists and urged them to demonstrate, posted an action alert on our Web site, sent a letter to the prosecutor, and issued a news release. After the media coverage, we generated and the avalanche of mail, faxes, and phone calls from outraged residents, the D.A. upgraded the charge to felony.


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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“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

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind