PETA, their “Animal Rights” stance, and Steve Irwin

By Penny Hoffmann

PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) has recently been absolutely shredded by Steve Irwin supporters, animal rights activists, and people who consider their movement hypocritical, around the world.

Google payed tribute to what would have been the Australian zookeeper, conservationist and television personality Steve Irwin’s 57th birthday. Google did this by temporarily updating their search engine logo with art of Irwin holding a crocodile.

PETA responded to this by tweeting the following:

“Steve Irwin was killed while harassing a ray; he dangled his baby while feeding a crocodile & wrestled wild animals who were minding their own business.”

“Steve Irwin’s actions were not on target with his supposed message of protecting wildlife.

“It is harassment to drag exotic animals, including babies taken from their mothers, around from TV talk shows to conferences & force them to perform as Steve Irwin did.”

In order to spread their animal rights activism, PETA thrives by making contentious videos, tweets, and other forms of statements according to their FAQ page on their website:

“Thus, we try to make our actions colourful and controversial, thereby grabbing headlines around the world and spreading the message of kindness to animals to thousands—sometimes millions—of people. This approach has proved amazingly successful: In the three decades since PETA was founded, it has grown into the largest animal rights group in the country, with more than 3 million members and supporters worldwide.”

According to their mission statement, PETA is the “largest animal rights organization in the world, with more than 6.5 million members and supporters”. In their activism, PETA focuses on the following areas in which animals suffer the most: laboratories, food industries, clothing trades, and the entertainment industry. According to the mission statement, PETA also advocates for animal rights amongst domesticated animals and animals that are deemed “pests”. These include rodents and birds.

“PETA works through public education, cruelty investigations, research, animal rescue, legislation, special events, celebrity involvement, and protest campaigns.”

According to their website, here is why PETA protects the rights of animals:

“Jeremy Bentham, the founder of the reforming utilitarian school of moral philosophy, stated that when deciding on a being’s rights, “The question is not ‘Can they reason?’ nor ‘Can they talk?’ but ‘Can they suffer?’” In that passage, Bentham points to the capacity for suffering as the vital characteristic that gives a being the right to equal consideration. The capacity for suffering is not just another characteristic like the capacity for language or higher mathematics. All animals have the ability to suffer in the same way and to the same degree that humans do. They feel pain, pleasure, fear, frustration, loneliness, and motherly love. Whenever we consider doing something that would interfere with their needs, we are morally obligated to take them into account.”

“Only prejudice allows us to deny others the rights that we expect to have for ourselves. Whether it’s based on race, gender, sexual orientation, or species, prejudice is morally unacceptable. “

However, according to PETA Kills Animals, “since 1998, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has killed over 36,000 animals. 93% of all animals that fall under PETA’s care never make it out alive”.

PETA Kills Animals requested and received reports from Virginia’s Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services that detailed how many dogs and cats PETA received, transferred, successfully found homes for, and killed.

In 2018, PETA received 2,470 dogs and cats. Of these, 658 were transferred, 35 were adopted (1.42%) and 1,771 were killed (71.70%).

The worst year of killing of dogs and cats for PETA, according to the document, was 2006. of the 3,061 dogs and cats that were received, 46 were transferred, 12 were adopted (0.4%), and 2,981 were killed (97.4%).

In total, from 1998 to 2018, 47,316 dogs and cats were received by PETA, 3,434 were transferred, 3,459 were adopted (7.31%) and 39,961 were killed (84.46%).

The real question is whether the dogs and cats that are killed are in an irredeemable condition.

According to PETA’s FAQ page, this is why PETA supports the euthanisation of dogs and cats rather than building more animal shelters:

“A shelter should be a temporary compromise for dogs and cats. It is not a solution to companion animal homelessness. Dogs and cats need more than food, water, and shelter from the elements. They need and deserve loving care, regular human companionship, respect for their individuality, and the opportunity to play and run. As difficult as it may be for us to accept, euthanasia (carried out by veterinarians or shelter staff trained in intravenous injection of sodium pentobarbital) is often the most compassionate and dignified way for unwanted animals to leave this uncaring world.”

So, because dogs and cats need loving care, regular human companionship, and so on, as well as food and water, and they lack these at shelters, they should be killed because it is “often the most compassionate and dignified way for unwanted animals to leave this uncaring world?” What these animals deserve should be more volunteers to care for them, not death. Plenty of us love dogs and cats; PETA needs to improve their advertisements to get more volunteers. That is the solution. So, because kids in orphanages may not get adopted, they should… be euthanized? No. There needs to be more advertising and selection of trustworthy workers at orphanages. These animals and people may end up getting out of their current situation in their future; why give up because of their present situation?

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