PETA may soon lose the right to kill healthy pets. As I and many others have verified, the headquarters of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals in Norfolk, Virginia kills 97 per cent of the animals delivered into its care.
Norfolk, however, may soon pass legislation to make the city a "No Kill" zone.
This is a remarkable development in the growing battle to deny PETA the right to liquidate pets at its so-called "Shelter of Last Resort." The group has already killed over 27,000 creatures. The new laws, a collaboration between the City Council and Nathan Winograd of the No Kill movement, would make PETA's life very difficult. It would either have to stop killing, or move.
It is an ongoing, hard-fought war. Former PETA employees, disgusted with the butchery they have witnessed in Norfolk, have called for PETA's founder, Ingrid Newkirk, not simply to resign, but to face charges. They argue that she ought to be held to the same standards that rightly applied to football player Michael Vick.
The new laws might not put Newkirk in prison, but they would prevent further slaughter.
PETA, however, is fighting the proposed legislation with every legal tool at its disposal: The group has filed a request, under the Freedom of Information Act, requiring the city to reveal its correspondence with Winograd, as a pressing matter of "public interest." Implied is a black conspiracy .
This would qualify as the world's least shady intrigue. A sinister FOIA request is hardly necessary: All you need do is ask. Which I did. Nathan Winograd was happily forthcoming. City Councilman Andy Protogyrou proposed that Norfolk become No Kill; an advocate then contacted Winograd, who offered to help draft legislation, as he has in numerous communities.
PETA's knives came out. Daphna Nachminovitch wrote an ominous letter to the mayor of Norfolk. I have written about Nachminovitch before: She styles herself the "Vice President" of PETA's "Cruelty Investigations Department." And she has personally signed off on the killing of thousands of shelter animals.
"I understand," Nachminovitch wrote, "that the same small group of people whose hysterical, incessant e-mails and calls brought about the severely crowded, filthy, and cruel conditions that animals were subjected to in 2007 are at it again."
What Nachminovitch "understands" is in dismal conflict with reality. I asked Winograd -- since he is guiding the current effort -- whether he was a member of this "same small group."
Norfolk in 2007? I was not involved at all. My understanding is that the shelter director wanted to stop killing, but did not advance any of the programs I advocate: like foster care, comprehensive adoption programs, pet retention efforts, TNR (Trap, Neuter, Release). And the effort failed.
So. This is not "same" group. It is a rather different group. Nor is this current group anything like "small": To PETA's dismay, the No Kill Community is a major national force, and growing worldwide.
Unfortunately, anyone can use the words "no kill" -- just as anyone can use the word "ethical." The No Kill Community is a very specific organization, however, with a very specific and meticulous protocol. Much harder work than simply refusing to kill, the program has been proven, again and again, to succeed.
PETA gets tremendous mileage out of deliberately confusing these two: benighted, self-styled "no kill" organizations (often abusive), with shelters that carefully follow Winograd's No Kill method. The two could not be more different. And PETA knows this.
Nachminovitch caps her fiction with a truly wondrous lie: "These are people who -- despite meaning well, perhaps -- have no actual sheltering experience whatsoever and in fact only take in a few dozen animals annually."
Shall we examine Winograd's lack of sheltering experience? He was, for instance, Director of Operations for the San Francisco SPCA, where he had 150 employees, including a dozen veterinarians and behaviorists. They had a full-service animal hospital, with some 30,000 animals treated annually. Each year they found homes for 5,000 animals.
Does Nachminovitch require another example? In Reno, Nevada, Winograd rewrote the agency's policies and procedures, fired 13 managers, and hired an entirely new team. "That agency sees almost 10,000 animals a year. They are now saving 91 per cent of animals."
PETA's record? "In 2011, PETA took in 2,029 companion animals, mostly dogs and cats, and killed all but 64 of them, which is 97 per cent."
Should you be a connoisseur of grim irony: PETA's grisly records were made public through the Freedom of Information Act. The 2011 kill report, a legal document, was signed by one "Daphna Nachminovitch, Vice President, Cruelty Investigations."
Meanwhile, Nathan Winograd consults with shelters across America who are saving a staggering number of dogs and cats and rabbits from the hypodermic. Flotillas of miraculous arks:
In fact, right now there are about 41 communities nationwide saving at least 90 per cent of the animals. They represent about 200 towns and cities across the country. Some of them are small, taking in a few hundred animals; some are quite large, taking in as many as 23,000 animals a year. All of them follow the model we pioneered to create the first No Kill community in the U.S.
There you have your "small" group of people, who see perhaps a "few dozen animals annually."
Ironically, the group painfully deficient in sheltering experience is PETA. While its preferred euphemism is "A Shelter of Last Resort," PETA's headquarters is in reality -- according to government records filed by Newkirk and Nachminovitch -- an astonishingly efficient killing facility.
In short, PETA, who asserts when cornered that it does not run an actual shelter, are disparaging the experience of one of the most seasoned shelter directors in the nation. A man who has lectured on animal sheltering at Cornell, America's foremost veterinary college.
Yes, all of this is very much in the public interest. Even more important: it is in the interest of America's shelter animals, 4 million of whom will be slaughtered next year.
The historic nature of the showdown in Norfolk cannot be overstated. It will change the landscape of animal welfare in the United States. Norfolk is ground zero in the Right to Kill movement: Everyone who regards it as their duty to kill animals takes their cue from PETA. High-kill shelters look to the lady in Norfolk to rationalize their choices. To make them feel like good people.
If Norfolk properly implements No Kill, PETA will be devastated. Its butchery will be rendered illegal; its propaganda will be revealed as a chorus of lies; and organizations around the world who look to PETA for permission to kill healthy pets will be left without cover.
Ingrid Newkirk tells us that, "No one despises the ugly reality of euthanizing animals more than the people who hold the syringe." Stirring words. And a few miles shy of the truth. I despise this ugly reality far more than Newkirk does, I assure you. As do Winograd and the legions of animal lovers worldwide devoted to ending this vicious practice.
If Nathan Winograd and the Norfolk City Council succeed, then hard laws will bar this vile cult, permanently, from their current role as PWHS: the People Who Hold the Syringe.
(Part Two of this article addresses PETA's spurious arguments against the No Kill Community: hoarding, and the myth of overpopulation. You can read Douglas Cooper's complete expose of PETA's pet-killing practices starting here).