PETA Wants Accused Arsonist Charged With Animal Abuse

The Sweet Creek Fire Has Killed Countless Wild Animals—Group Says Cruelty Charges Must Not Also Be Lost in the Fire

For Immediate Release:
October 8, 2020

Contact:
Nicole Meyer 202-483-7382

Lane County, Ore. – This morning, PETA sent a letter urging Patricia W. Perlow, the Lane County District Attorney, to file appropriate cruelty-to-animals charges against Elias Newton Pendergrass, who’s scheduled for an October 12 pre-trial hearing on the first-degree arson charge that he faces in connection with the devastating Sweet Creek fire near Mapleton.

“When the Sweet Creek fire swept through more than 300 acres of forest, an enormous number of wild animals undoubtedly experienced terrifying, agonizing deaths,” says PETA Senior Vice President Daphna Nachminovitch. “The enforcement of cruelty-to-animals laws must not go up in smoke—the person responsible needs to be held accountable for violating Oregon’s animal protection statutes.”

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to abuse in any way”—opposes speciesism, which is a human-supremacist worldview. For more information, visit PETA.org.

PETA’s letter to Perlow follows.

October 8, 2020

The Honorable Patricia W. Perlow

Lane County District Attorney

Dear Ms. Perlow,

We hope this letter finds you well. We’re writing to request that your office add appropriate cruelty-to-animals charges against Elias Newton Pendergrass, who is scheduled for an October 12 pre-trial hearing on the first-degree arson charge that he faces in connection with the Sweet Creek fire near Mapleton. Cruelty-to-animals charges must not be lost in this fire, too.

While the 100 homes in the path of the Sweet Creek fire were spared and no human lives were lost, the enormous number of wild animals who resided in the more than 300 acres of dense forest that burned were undoubtedly less fortunate. Such catastrophic fires cause countless wild animals to endure terror, suffering, and prolonged, agonizing deaths.

ORS §167.320 states that a person “commits the crime of animal abuse in the first degree if … the person … recklessly … [c]auses serious physical injury to an animal … or … [c]ruelly causes the death of an animal.”[1] Given that Pendergrass is accused of cruelly contributing to a wildfire that surely led to serious physical injuries and death for an untold number of animals, we respectfully ask that investigators and your office consider adding animal abuse charges to those he already faces.

Thank you for your consideration and for the difficult work that you do.

Sincerely,

Sarah Deffinger

Evidence Analyst

Cruelty Investigations Department

[1]ORS § 167.320, “Animal abuse in the first degree” <https://www.oregonlaws.org/ors/167.320> (Last accessed on October 8, 2020).

[1]ORS § 167.320, “Animal abuse in the first degree” <https://www.oregonlaws.org/ors/167.320> (Last accessed on October 8, 2020).

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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