When the No Kill shelter in Shelby County, Kentucky, recently announced that they had run out of space -- and were hence going to have to start killing healthy dogs and cats -- officials received a nice basket of gourmet cookies, with a note signed by PETA: "Thank you for doing the right thing for animals."
Surely I'm joking here. This must be a weak stab at satire. Many people have written about Ingrid Newkirk's vicious pet-killing program -- her organization has personally liquidated over 27,000 animals -- but PETA has always responded with hurt and outrage (and lawyers). People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals don't celebrate killing, goes the lie -- they see it as a regrettable necessity.
Surely Newkirk wouldn't be so foolish as to express her ghoulish agenda in this way, as a naked statement accompanied by a gift. No group of self-styled vegans would publicly wed their name to the Pro-Kill Equation: butchery = the right thing.
Well, Nathan Winograd (who developed the somewhat different No Kill Equation) reported on this in detail, and I suggest you examine his photographic evidence. A lovely basket of "Allison's Gourmet Cookies" -- shipped fresh from California -- with a handwritten note signed: "The PETA Staff." If you'd like further evidence, and to read the reverse side of this charming note, Shelby County No Kill Mission has produced an affecting video about the episode.
To understand just how grotesque this is, you have to know a little bit about Shelby. This is not simply one of America's fifty-one No Kill communities. It has a special significance: Last year's save rate sent Shelby County to the top -- it is now one of the most successful examples of No Kill in the nation.
The last animal killed for lack of space in Shelby County was on May 27, 2008. Since then, they've enjoyed a save rate that is almost precisely the inverse of PETA's kill rate. Whereas PETA slaughters 97% of the pets delivered to their hellish "Shelter of Last Resort," in 2011 Shelby saved 98.52% of the cats and 94.46% of the dogs in their care.
Shelby County runs an open admission shelter: They do not turn animals away. They have an impeccable history -- despite PETA's dire predictions, their No Kill community has never been associated with hoarding or animal abuse of any kind. (In fact, none of the legitimate No Kill organizations has been guilty of these crimes, but that's another story.) The Shelby program has a tiny budget: $147,000. Compare that to PETA's annual plunder: over $32.3 million from unsuspecting donors.
While we're talking numbers, I should mention Shelby's 2011 live release rate for creatures other than dogs and cats (rabbits, etc.): a sterling 99.5%. This is a relatively small category -- just a handful of animals -- but I'm one of those people who believes that even a single rabbit matters. And in this category, PETA managed a live release rate of 7%. (For the mathematically challenged, that means that in 2011, 93% of these animals did not survive their visit to PETA's headquarters in Norfolk.)
This underfunded county in Kentucky is PETA's worst nightmare. Shelby has proven that even in the most difficult circumstances, Ingrid Newkirk's blood-drenched program is completely unnecessary.
In short, Shelby matters.
Hence the grateful cookie basket: If this county starts killing again, PETA is made to look like a respectable organization -- one that embraces hard but necessary choices -- as opposed to a cult of eager and unrepentant pet killers.
Now, in some respects Shelby County has deviated from the No Kill Equation as defined by Nathan Winograd. Notably, whenever the shelter has become full, Shelby has responded by presenting the community with deadlines: Unless a certain number of animals are adopted by this date, the shelter will be forced to kill. The tactic has worked thus far, but goes contrary to what the No Kill Community stands for, which is to eliminate even the threat of violence towards animals.
Worse: it brings out the vampires.
The occasion of PETA's celebration was the most credible threat thus far: the prospect of a particularly impressive No Kill shelter failing, and reverting to the barbarism of the status quo. Behold! No Kill is a utopian illusion, and we are righteous vegans with hypodermics. Have some cookies.
I looked into Allison's Gourmet, by the way, to determine just how much a basket of their vegan delicacies would set you back. This is not to suggest that the company is complicit in this revolting display: They seem like sincere people who genuinely care about animals; I like to think they had no idea that their product was being used as a prize for killing pets.
Allison's pastries look pretty great, in fact: "Exquisite Treats for Gourmet Palates." As you can imagine, they are not inexpensive.
A basket of Allison's vegan cookies and candies costs between $85 (for the "Classic Elegance Gift Basket)" and $415 (for the "Ultimate Nirvana Gift Basket.") Shipping is between $16.95 and $60.65. Add a $4 chill pack, to keep things fresh.
It is just the kind of expansive gesture you can expect from Ingrid Antoinette, who famously knows some of the world's most special and well-heeled vegan celebrities. Let them eat cookies.
I do hope that PETA includes this expense in their annual budget. Thankfully, not all of the cash milked from innocent donors goes towards butchering animals. Some of that 32.3 million goes towards pastries that celebrate other people butchering animals. It's important for you to know this, if you're planning on sending Ingrid a cheque.
PETA's kill propaganda can be extraordinarily effective, but this particular horror story has a happy ending. Thanks in large part to the aid of Shelby County No Kill Mission, a private group, the shelter did not kill even one creature: Despite their announcement, they found a place for every single pet.
Oh, and Shelby officials have decided to discontinue the shock tactic of threatening that animals will be killed if homes aren't found. This is a welcome decision. Of course the most important thing is to stop killing, but it's also crucial to point out that PETA's vicious practice is not even an option. It is not something you contemplate, much less threaten. The decent citizens of Shelby do not kill dogs and cats for this simple reason: They are not the kind of people who butcher pets.
The shelter in Shelby, by the way, is hindered not only by their shoe-string budget, but by their relatively inaccessible location. If you appreciate what Shelby County is accomplishing -- against all odds, for some of the nation's most vulnerable shelter animals -- I strongly suggest that you send a donation to Shelby County No Kill Mission.
The shelter does not in fact require exquisite gourmet cookies, but they could desperately use pet food, bedding, cat litter, laundry detergent. That hundred dollars you'd spend on even the cheapest basket of vegan delicacies could buy, for instance, four microwavable heating discs -- crucial for keeping puppies warm on cold nights, after they haven't been killed. Send a healthy contribution to the good people of Shelby, and attach a note saying, "Thank you for doing the right thing."
You are no doubt wondering what happened to PETA's expensive gift. This I am happy to report. In a rare and inspired act, where justice does in fact rise to the level of poetry, the cookies were given to adopters as a token of thanks.
Can't you just imagine Ingrid seething? All of that good money -- precious donations, for God's sake -- put towards saving shelter animals.