From ajc.com

PETA killed animals from shelter


Associated Press
Published on: 06/24/05

NORFOLK, Va. Officials of two North Carolina counties have stopped turning over shelter animals to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, saying they were surprised to learn the group killed the cats and dogs instead of trying to find them homes.

Two PETA employees are charged with dumping dead animals they collected in eastern North Carolina counties in a shopping center's garbage bins. Adria Joy Hinkle, 27, of Norfolk, Va., and Andrew Benjamin Cook, 24, of Virginia Beach, Va., have a hearing scheduled for July 19 on charges of animal cruelty, disposal of dead animals and trespassing.

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Northampton County officials decided last week to stop working with PETA until the case against the two employees is resolved. The Bertie County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously Monday to cut all ties to the Norfolk, Va.-based group, despite a written apology from its president.

Bertie County Manager Zee Lamb said Tuesday that he believed the animals were being taken for evaluation and "the ones that were adoptable would be adopted," and euthanasia would be only a last resort. Sue Gay, health director for Northampton County, said she assumed the same.

Documents filed with the state of Virginia showed that PETA euthanized about 6,100 domestic animals from 2001-03. Daphna Nachminovitch, director of PETA's domestic animal and wildlife department, said she didn't know how many were from North Carolina.

She also said she didn't know how many animals taken from North Carolina shelters were adopted or euthanized. However, the letter from PETA President Ingrid Newkirk to Bertie commissioners said: "We were able to place a small number of animals but the condition of most rural strays and given-up animals makes that impossible."

All animals PETA accepts are supposed to be examined by a veterinarian, but even some healthy animals may be euthanized if PETA cannot find them homes, Nachminovitch said.

"Did we euthanize some animals who could have been adopted? Maybe," Nachminovitch said. "The point is that good homes are few and far between. Our aim here was to stop them from dying an agonizing death."

The organization has said it began offering to take stray animals from agencies in poor, rural counties where authorities had been putting them to sleep by gassing or shooting them. Newkirk said last week that the organization uses a fast-acting lethal injection.

Since 2001, PETA has taken animals from shelters in Bertie, Hertford and Northampton counties and the town of Windsor.

PETA spent $250,000 improving Bertie County's shelter and $65,000 on improvements in Northampton County and provided more than $9,000 to an Ahoskie veterinarian who euthanized animals, Nachminovitch said.

The organization has stayed in touch with Bertie and Northampton officials in hopes of mending the relationships, she said.

"One of our people made a very bad mistake, and I don't want the animals to suffer for it," Nachminovitch said.