COMMENTARY: People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is working to alleviate suffering

The Review-Journal’s March 12 editorial on People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and euthanasia included quotes from Will Coggin taking a potshot at the group. Your readers should know that he works for a front group for the meat, tobacco and other industries that profit from killing hundreds of millions of animals every year — not out of compassion but out of greed.

This group’s clients fear the growing impact that PETA is having in informing people about the suffering and cruelty inherent in their industries and changing consumers’ buying habits — so it engages in attempts to mischaracterize PETA’s vital work to help animals in our local communities. But they aren’t telling the truth.

PETA spent more than $2 million last year helping animals in some of the poorest areas in southeastern Virginia and northeastern North Carolina — including areas that lack an animal shelter, a humane officer or even a veterinary clinic.

Our dedicated rescue team goes out every day (and is on call 24/7) to provide free sturdy, custom-built doghouses and straw bedding to dogs that are kept chained or penned in backyards. They replace heavy chains with lightweight tie-outs and provide neglected, abandoned and abused dogs and cats with flea and flystrike preventive medications, food, water and much more.

Last year, PETA helped more than 2,000 indigent families keep animals they had been about to give up by providing them with free veterinary care.

But not every animal can be saved, and at our “shelter of last resort,” we welcome every animal brought to us, no matter how old, sick, injured or aggressive.

These are the animals often refused entry by most “no-kill” shelters precisely because they are euthanasia candidates, and admitting them would mean that the facility could no longer call itself “no-kill.” So someone else has to help them, and in our area of Virginia and North Carolina, that’s PETA.

Our doors are always open to dogs that are dangerously aggressive or dying of cancer or heartworm disease after being chained outside their entire lives; feral cats ravaged by feline immunodeficiency virus, feline leukemia or other contagious and fatal illnesses; and animals whose guardians have been referred to us by local veterinarians because they can’t afford the cost of ending their beloved companions’ suffering at a vet clinic.

Just as a hospice for humans has a high mortality rate, so does an animal shelter that takes in those that are near the end of their lives, dying, unsocialized and discarded. For these animals, euthanasia is a kind act, often the only kindness they have ever been shown. We are honored to provide suffering animals with the dignity of a painless death when life has no more to offer them.

When adoptable animals come our way, we transfer them to high-traffic shelters for a chance at finding a loving home. We’ve also found excellent homes for many lucky animals ourselves.

Most importantly, PETA works at the roots to prevent unwanted animals from being born only to end up in shelters. Our fleet of mobile clinics sterilized more than 15,100 animals last year alone, helping to reduce the suffering that follows when animals enter a world in which many of them lack a good home or any home at all.

The only way to create a humane and sustainable “no-kill” nation is to create a “no-birth” one. We invite everyone to join us in improving and saving animals’ lives by helping to implement spay-and-neuter laws and laws that would end the sale of animals in pet stores, by having their own animal companions sterilized and by helping people who can’t afford it to do the same.

Daphna Nachminovitch is senior vice president of the Cruelty Investigations Department for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

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