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PETA, Your Problems Are Bigger Than Rob Ford

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Perhaps PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) would be better advised to worry about its own reputation rather than demonstrating at the next weigh-in of Toronto's Mayor Rob Ford.

PETA "Lettuce Ladies" (gals wearing tactically placed lettuce leaves) plan to serve veggie snacks at the next weigh-in of Ford's campaign to publicly lose 50 pounds.

He ain't doing too well in this -- nor is PETA, for that matter.

Huffington Post Canada has been running a series by novelist and blogger Douglas Anthony Cooper on PETA and its founder Ingrid Newkirk. The implications are startling.

Until discovering that PETA does more killing than saving of unwanted animals, I'd paid little attention to it, dismissing it as "just another" animal rights movement. Nude activists protesting the wearing of animal skins was a media publicity gimmick -- rather like the Lettuce Ladies and Mayor Ford.

My view changed when I came across figures from the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services that since 1998, PETA took in 31,815 animals (mostly dogs and cats) and killed 27,751 of them.

PETA's headquarters are in Norfolk, Va. Its 1998 slaughter (euthanasia) rate of 72.6 per cent rose to 95.9 per cent in 2011. That's pretty persuasive evidence that PETA is a "slaughterhouse," as claimed by the Centre for Consumer Freedom. (PETA and others view the Centre as a lobby group for the tobacco industry.)

All the above is a matter of record, for those who want to see it.

Douglas Cooper looks closely at PETA's founder, Ingrid Newkirk who, he notes, was a young stockbroker in 1972 who brought a bunch of abandoned kittens to a shelter, assuming they'd be adopted. When she returned later and learned they'd already been killed "it was a shock that derailed her." She quit her job to take up animal rights and formed PETA.

Cooper writes: "PETA, for reasons near impossible to comprehend, decided to devote itself to precisely the treachery that inspired Newkirk's mission in the first place. Her organization now routinely takes in animals, with the gentle lie that it intends to re-home them. It then exterminates them. Generally within 24 hours."

In his most recent blog Cooper says Nathan Winograd, leader of the "No Kill" movement, believes Newkirk is mentally ill. "That to him is the only credible explanation for her monstrous compulsion to kill healthy shelter animals," says Cooper.

He adds: "In contrast I have argued that she is fully rational: Her viciousness has its own internal logic; moreover, it is counter-productive to psychologize evil."

Cooper says Newkirk has unapologetically described herself as a tyrant to the New Yorker: "This is not a democratic organization," she said. "I never pretended that it was . . . and I am not willing to give it a try."

From my understanding of PETA, it considers any animal in captivity -- in a home, a zoo, circus, wherever, and certainly a stray -- as being better off dead. Indeed, PETA itself states: "The most humane thing that a shelter can do is give an animal a peaceful release from the world."

A quiet death is mercy for very sick, badly injured, or animals in great pain. But surely not for healthy animals. Yet it's healthy animals who get the chop from PETA. The organization is not interested in being an adoption centre.

Nathan Winograd, who last weekend spoke in Toronto, is an interesting guy. He's the leader and inspiration for "No Kill" animal shelters (except for those sick or injured). He makes a persuasive case that the No Kill philosophy saves communities money and is more effective than high kill rates. Also more humane. When the euthanasia rate is over 10 per cent, he feels it becomes a "kill shelter." Spay/neutering, even of feral cats which are then released, reduces numbers and saves money.

Anyway, this isn't about Winograd, but about PETA and its lust for killing -- something those Lettuce Ladies at Mayor Ford's weigh-in, might think about.

The great longshoreman philosopher Eric Hoffer could have been thinking of PETA when he wrote: "Every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business, and turns into a racket."