PETA Statement

For Immediate Release:
February 27, 2015

Today, PETA is finally able to express the deep sorrow that we feel over an incident that occurred on the Eastern Shore in October 2014, for which we have been investigated and cited by the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS). PETA has awaited the release of VDACS’ findings before commenting publicly. The circumstances are these: Accomack County residents appealed to PETA for help with a long-standing crisis in which abandoned and feral dogs were attacking children, livestock, wildlife, and cats; giving birth to litters of sick puppies under trailers; and running in packs at an area mobile home park. PETA was contacted because we have an around-the-clock program to answer calls for help in southeastern Virginia, providing more than 112,000 free and low-cost spay or neuter surgeries for animals of indigent, elderly, military, and other citizens; free doghouse and straw-bedding delivery services; emergency veterinary care and counseling for animal-related problems; and working with other agencies.

It was extremely upsetting, therefore, to discover that in the course of doing something helpful and good, something bad had happened. A dog picked up by a PETA worker in the mobile home park, collarless and without any indicia of ownership, was mistakenly identified as an owner-surrender and was then euthanized in error, in violation of regulations and in violation of existing PETA protocols. Immediately after the incident became known to PETA management, our shelter supervisor visited the dog’s owner to extend our heartfelt apologies to the family, and PETA began a comprehensive internal investigation. The person responsible for this tragic mistake was immediately suspended and subsequently terminated. PETA has implemented additional safeguards to ensure that such a mistake never happens again.

A December 11, 2014, inspection by the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) confirmed noncompliance related to the required holding period for this dog and acknowledged PETA’s prompt action to apply additional safeguards. This is the first and only finding of noncompliance in more than 16 years of operation and flawless inspection reports for PETA’s shelter. PETA takes full responsibility for and sincerely regrets what happened. This terrible mistake has provided fuel for those who habitually misrepresent and fabricate stories about the way in which PETA’s shelter operates, and that, too, is regrettable. We ask the community to forgive this mistake and to remember the tens of thousands of animals PETA has helped, and our extensive efforts to help abate the overpopulation crisis through sterilization surgeries and thereby end needless euthanasia in Hampton Roads and beyond. Please watch this short video, which gives more information about our services and shows the work that we do in some of the most impoverished areas.

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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