‘There Are Times When I Have to Hold Back the Tears’: 7 Can’t-Miss Quotes on Being a PETA Investigator

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Seeing animals suffering is one of the hardest things PETA investigators will ever have to do. So why do they persist? Because each one knows that documenting cruelty is critically important to stopping it. The impact of PETA’s investigators on our vital work for animals cannot be overstated—many of our victories wouldn’t have been possible without these intrepid staffers and their commitment to animal liberation.

Here are 7 quotes from PETA investigators that reveal what it’s really like to be on the front line and behind closed doors:

Sometimes, I will let out a good cry at home or in my car after a particularly disturbing day.

There are times when I have to hold back the tears. To see the workers torture these animals is infuriating.

[O]n every field observation assignment I’ve been on, I’ve seen animals suffering so badly that I probably wouldn’t have believed it myself if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes.

This is from a PETA investigator who went undercover on a filthy Iowa farm supplying piglets for Hormel products:

I witnessed a bloodbath today. … I witnessed at least 30 piglets killed today. … Blood soaked the concrete floors.

Thanks in large part to this investigator’s work, officials filed 22 charges of livestock neglect and abuse against six former employees of the Hormel supplier. All six defendants admitted guilt, and the case resulted in Iowa’s first convictions for abuse or neglect of factory-farmed pigs.

Hormel Supplier Caught Abusing Mother Pigs and Piglets
While undercover at a Hormel supplier, a PETA investigator documented how a worker slammed piglets deemed “runts” headfirst into the concrete floor in an attempt to kill them.

Here, one PETA eyewitness recalls the promise they made to Loretta, a monkey trapped at Primate Products Inc. (PPI), a dealer that imports animals to sell to laboratories:

When I first met Loretta, I told her who I was, why I was there, and I assured her that I would not cause her any harm.

After PETA shared the documentation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), a team of six agency inspectors conducted a three-day inspection of PPI and cited the facility for at least 25 violations of federal animal welfare laws, and PPI remains under federal investigation. Also thanks to this eyewitness, countless more folks now know that the process of getting monkeys into laboratories is traumatic and have joined PETA in persuading lawmakers to do better by primates.

Amid documenting the systemic neglect and violent handling of monkeys at Primate Products Inc., a PETA eyewitness takes a moment to comfort one of the victims exploited by the monkey dealer.

In a guest blog post, a PETA eyewitness who went to work at Team Baker Kennel—where past Iditarod “champion” John Baker and four-time Iditarod musher Katherine Keith kept their dogs—shared this:

This wasn’t exactly an easy decision for a person with a huge weakness for dogs. But these dogs were being used like heavy equipment. They were being raced to their deaths. And someone needed to shine a light on it.

Despite admitting that one dog, Birch, should be “put out of her misery” and that she was “not healthy,” Baker refused the investigator’s repeated offers to adopt her or provide her with veterinary care.

Birch, an Iditarod victim
This is Birch. She endured horrific neglect at this kennel co-owned by former Iditarod “champion” John Baker. Despite sustaining a crippling, extremely painful spinal cord injury when she was just a puppy, she was denied veterinary care and chained in the freezing cold 24/7.

And this is from an investigator who went undercover at a massive chicken hatchery operated by a company supplying McDonald’s, KFC, Burger King, and other major fast-food chains:

Before taking this job, I knew some of the horrifying figures for chickens raised for meat and eggs—66 billion slaughtered worldwide each year, 9 billion in the U.S. alone. But as I found out, many victims of the chicken meat industry go uncounted, falling out of broken eggs and gasping on the cold concrete floor.

Thanks to this investigator, 25,790 people and counting have pledged to go vegan.

“I tried to grab loose eggs on the machine before they were crushed,” a PETA investigator recalls of their time spent undercover at a chicken hatchery supplying McDonald’s, KFC, and Burger King. “Sometimes, I wasn’t quick enough. I picked up one of these smashed eggs and the embryo came with it—but the head rolled out onto the table. My first thought was, ‘At least it was a quick death.’”


PETA investigators are changing animals’ lives—and we need more folks who are interested in being heroes to animals.

In the last 13 years alone, our investigations have resulted in the following:

  • More than 1,200 criminal charges filed
  • More than 400 USDA citations issued
  • The closure of 20 facilities so far, sparing countless animals unimaginable suffering, terror, and agonizing deaths

If changing the world for animals sounds like something you want to be a part of, you’re in luck—PETA’s Cruelty Investigations Department is hiring.

You: Diligent, sensible, and ready to go above and beyond ✔️

Us: The largest and most effective animal rights organization on Earth 🌎

Together, let’s make a difference. ☮️

If you think you have the courage and wherewithal to be on the front line, we want to hear from you. Click on the buttons below to read more about position requirements.

Discover exactly what it takes to be a PETA investigator:

Are you fluent in Spanish? If so, click here:

If your research skills are top-notch, consider applying to become an investigative researcher:

To put your stellar attention to detail to use, check out our evidence analyst opening:

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