Live Squirrel Flushed Down Toilet Prompts PETA Plea for Empathy Lessons in Schools

For Immediate Release:
May 13, 2022

Megan Wiltsie 202-483-7382

Gypsum, Colo. – Following reports that a group of Eagle Valley High School students flushed a live squirrel down a toilet and posted a video of the incident to social media, TeachKind—PETA’s humane education division—rushed a letter today to Eagle County School District Superintendent Philip Qualman asking to provide the district with a K–12 kindness-to-animals curriculum and “Empathy Now,” a guide to preventing all kinds of violence by young people.

Colorado law strongly encourages schools to include character education programming in order to “better prepare students to become positive contributors to society.” As TeachKind notes in its letter, the group’s curriculum and offer to host free, empathy-building virtual presentations would help the district meet this recommendation.

“Drowning would be every bit as painful and terrifying for a squirrel as it would be for another mammal, like a dog or a human,” says PETA Senior Director of Youth Programs Marta Holmberg. “Compassion and empathy can be learned, and TeachKind is on standby to help schools teach young people that violence is wrong, whether the victim is a squirrel or a student.”

TeachKind notes that research shows that 43% of perpetrators of school massacres first committed acts of cruelty against animals—so juvenile animal abusers potentially pose a serious threat to the community at large. The group’s other resources include its free high school social justice curriculum, “Challenging Assumptions,” and its “Share the World” program kit for elementary school students.

TeachKind—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to abuse in any way”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information, please visit or follow the group on Facebook or Instagram.

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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