PETA Trial Report - response from PETA
By Daphna Nachminovitch, Director PETA
When a police officer from Bertie County, North Carolina, contacted PETA in 2000 to ask for our help with cleaning up the local pound, we knew it must be bad. But nothing prepared us for what we found – dozens of animals who were famished and suffering from untreated illnesses and injuries. Some of them drowned when the pound flooded, some were cannibalised, and some died from parvovirus, mange infestations and internal parasites. Meals – when there were any – consisted of stale bread. There was no protection from snow, bitter winds or blazing sun, nor were there open hours, adoption programmes or veterinary care for the sick.
Cats who were brought in were released in a nearby wooded area to fend for themselves. Hungry kittens sometimes crawled into the pound searching for food and were killed and eaten by the starving dogs.
When the holding period was up, the warden shot the animals he couldn’t get his hands on and stuffed the friendly ones into a rusty box, put a cinderblock on top of it to prevent them from clawing their way out and flipped the switch that pumped gas into the box. He then raced to his car and turned up the radio to drown out the screams.
These facts came out during the recent trial in North Carolina involving two PETA employees. The jury found there was no cruelty involved and no attempt to mislead, and the employees were cleared of all charges, except for one count of littering. It became clear during testimony that PETA had tried for years – through formal proposals and meetings – to get county officials and local veterinarians to do right by the animals in their charge by providing them with basic needs, a chance to be adopted and, if necessary, a humane death. Officials ignored our appeals but used our free services: We hired cleaning staff for the shelters, paid for professional training for the Bertie animal control officer, assisted with cruelty investigations and euthanasia at the officer’s request, and covered all expenses and labour – through our staff and volunteers – to build a cat shelter.
The positive outcome of “the PETA case” is that it shines a spotlight on the animal overpopulation crisis and its tragic consequences. Shelters are forced to euthanize an astounding 3 to 4 million dogs and cats every year in the United States – far more than anyone could ever find homes for. Many of these animals are healthy and adorable. But because people buy dogs and cats from pet shops and breeders, rather than adopting from shelters, and then don’t sterilize these animals, the result is unchecked breeding and more unwanted litters. The only way to end euthanasia is to stem the flow and prevent the births of animals. Spaying and neutering is the answer.
In the impoverished counties where PETA works, the only low to no-cost spay/neuter services are those that PETA offers by paying local veterinarians to sterilize animals and by transporting animals to our “SNIP mobile” – a spay/neuter clinic on wheels – which has sterilized more than 40,000 animals since 2001.
We will continue our work in the poor counties in North Carolina – we are determined that unwanted and abandoned animals will never again be ignored and left to suffer the kind of conditions PETA put a stop to a few years ago.
Daphna Nachminovitch is the director of PETA’s Domestic Animal and Wildlife Rescue Department in Norfolk, Virginia. Visit www.HelpingAnimals.com to learn more.