The Dog’s Tale in President Reagan’s Shooting, From PETA

For Immediate Release:
March 25, 2021

David Perle 202-483-7382

Washington – March 30 will mark 40 years since President Ronald Reagan was shot outside the Washington Hilton, and PETA is sharing the story of Kirk—named after PETA President Ingrid Newkirk—the K-9 whose partner, D.C. police officer Thomas Delahanty, was shot while protecting the president.

At the time, Newkirk was the head of the D.C. “dog pound,” where she worked with the Metropolitan Police Department to pair dogs like Kirk with police who treated them as fellow officers and lifelong members of their families. After Officer Delahanty was shot, he retired, so Kirk retired with him—and their retirement party, which Newkirk attended, was a backyard blowout with plenty of K-9s splashing in the swimming pool.

“Just as they were in 1981, animal shelters today are full of homeless dogs who just need a family and a little love, understanding, and patience,” says Newkirk. “It may be an unusual way to commemorate what happened 40 years ago, but PETA encourages everyone in a position to do so to consider honoring Kirk and Officer Delahanty by fostering or adopting a dog.”

Around 70 million dogs and cats are homeless in the U.S. at any given time, and an estimated 10% of them end up in animal shelters, where many must eventually be euthanized for reasons including injury, illness, old age, emotional and psychological damage, and a lack of good homes. That’s why PETA urges people to adopt from shelters and never buy from breeders or pet stores, which contribute to the homeless-animal overpopulation crisis.

More details about Kirk are available on PETA’s blog and in Newkirk’s book Let’s Have a Dog Party.

PETA—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 Twitter, 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