02/25/2012 10:15 EST | Updated 04/26/2012 05:12 EDT

PETA Wants You to Adopt a Rescued "Pet"

We should all be upset by animal homelessness, but for the right reasons -- not to take the spotlight off abuses in the meat, fur, and circus industries, but so that we can come together to end it.

A recent post was rife with inaccuracies about PETA's position on "pets." The facts are these: Not only does PETA actively encourage people to adopt "pets" from animal shelters, we also work to help people see that two are better than one (we suggest adopting an animal companion for your animal companion!).

Almost everyone at PETA shares their home with animals who were once discarded like old shoes by someone who didn't care enough to find that new "pet-friendly" apartment or to put time into training them or who couldn't afford or couldn't be bothered to pay for veterinary care when their animals became ill or injured. My beloved mutts -- Gilli, Dovi, and Agnes -- were all rescued by PETA and often come to work with me, where they are sure to steer clear of the office royalty: Marshall, with his three-and-a-half legs, and his buddies, Bubbles and Brandy, the three cats we rescued from the Gulf Coast following the BP oil disaster. PETA's office has always been home to rescued cats, most of whom were saved from the clutches of animal hoarders and other cruelty cases.

Then there are the ones who aren't as lucky: They will not go to a new home, and when you do the math, it's heartbreakingly easy to see why.

PETA is headquartered in the U.S., where an estimated 6 to 8 million unwanted animals end up in pounds and animal shelters every year. Canadian statistics are appalling too. Because people are still buying animals from breeders and pet shops instead of adopting from shelters, only about half of the animals who need a new home will find one. Shelters must euthanize the other half, some of whom are too ill or old to move into new digs. Others are broken souls who are fearful as a result of previous mistreatment or are large, loud, the wrong colour, or who knows what else that is not on the list of "desirable pet" attributes. Each animal, each "number," has a story, often a devastating one. We invite everyone to visit and read about just some of them: Pokey, DJ, Trixie, Pepper, Sasha, Diamond, Tupac, Zoo, Asia, Sheba, Holly, Big Girl, Santana, Rikus, and so many more -- including some whose guardians never even bothered to name them but who suffered just the same.

Front groups for the meat, fur, and circus industries -- which kill hundreds of millions of animals every year, not out of compassion, but out of greed -- seize on the euthanasia of dogs and cats, something they, unlike PETA, do nothing to prevent, as a cudgel with which to beat up on animal shelters and animal rights groups. We should all be upset by animal homelessness, but for the right reasons -- not to take the spotlight off abuses in the meat, fur, and circus industries, but so that we can come together to end it.

PETA has spent millions attacking the overpopulation problem at its roots -- through spay-and-neuter surgeries, including via our three mobile clinics, which have sterilized nearly 80,000 animals at low cost to no cost in the last 10 years. We provide hands-on help to indigent communities in places where there are no veterinary services or only unaffordable ones.

We work with celebrities internationally to promote the adoption of homeless animals -- including kind stars like Justin Bieber, James Tupper, Tricia Helfer, and others. Our ads have reached millions of people with messages about animal adoption, respect, and the importance of sterilization.

We invite everyone to prevent more dogs and cats from being born only to end up chained and left to waste away in people's backyards, suffering on the mean streets of our cities, tortured at the hands of animal abusers, or euthanized for want of a loving home. To save lives, let's always have our animals spayed or neutered, adopt from shelters, and never buy animals from pet stores or breeders.

Daphna Nachminovitch is the vice president of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals' Cruelty Investigations Department, 501 Front St., Norfolk, VA 23510;