EXTRA / January 7, 2002 / #134
MORE THAN 1,000 LAST YEAR
MATTHEW BARAKAT, Associated Press Writer
July 29, 2000
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - It may seem surprising that People for the
Ethical Treatment of Animals - a group that often comes to the defense
of rats - euthanized more than 1,300 cats and dogs last year.
But PETA President Ingrid Newkirk says it was the only humane thing
to do. Last year, the Norfolk-based animal-rights group took in
2,103 companion animals. It was able to find homes for 386, and
put down 1,325. (Transfers and reclamations by owners accounted
for most of the rest of the animals PETA took in.)
"It is a totally rotten business, but sometimes the only kind option
for some animals is to put them to sleep forever," Newkirk said.
"I don't think a dog living in a cage walking in circles for the
rest of its life in a dog prison is a swell thing."
While several dozen shelters in Virginia have adopted a no-kill
philosophy, PETA has not.
"It sounds lovely if you're naive," Newkirk said. "We could become
a no-kill shelter immediately. It means we wouldn't do as much work."
Newkirk said PETA goes into bad neighborhoods and rescues animals
that are unadoptable.
"Nobody wants most of the animals that we touch," she said.
But Terry Wagoner, president of the Animal Adoption and Rescue Foundation
(AARF) in Richmond, said a no-kill philosophy is not as unattainable
as detractors claim. AARF found homes for 1,062 cats and dogs last
year. It euthanized none. She acknowledged that some animals - feral
dogs, for example - can be dangerous and are essentially unadoptable.
But many other animals are written off prematurely, she said.
AARF has been able to adopt more animals than any other no-kill
shelter in the state through an aggressive foster-care program,
"It takes three things: money, adoptions and foster care," Wagoner
said. "It's not going to work without those three."
Advocates on either side of the no-kill debate agree on the need
for aggressive programs to get animals spayed and neutered.
AARF will not allow an animal that hasn't been fixed to be adopted,
Wagoner said, and AARF will spay or neuter an animal as young as
12 weeks old. Newkirk said there's a simple solution to the nation's
"We need to make it expensive to license an unsterilized dog or
cat. ... We need to make it expensive to breed dogs and cats," she
said. "The program would pay for itself."
Copyright 2000. The Associated Press.
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