Local Vocal: PETA needs to address the problem
The recent media blitz about People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) euthanizing animals from North Carolina shelters seems more focused on vilifying those working to end the tragedies of overpopulation than addressing the causes of it in the first place ‘— people who don’t spay or neuter their animals, pet shops, and breeders.
When a concerned police officer notified PETA of the dire situation for animals at impoverished North Carolina shelters, PETA came to the rescue, delivering doghouses, building a cat shelter and footing vet bills for sick and injured animals. Perhaps PETA’s greatest act of mercy, though, was providing unwanted animals with a painless and dignified death through intravenous injections of sodium pentobarbital ‘— at no cost to the counties they served. In 2002 alone, North Carolina shelters killed 265,000 animals. Many ‘— if not most ‘— of these animals were killed cruelly, crammed into and struggling to claw their way out of a filthy gas box or shot in front of one another, not always dying by the first bullet.
It is interesting that people who claim to care about homeless animals dying would be so eager to attack an organization that works to prevent unwanted animals from being born in the first place. Perhaps PETA’s detractors don’t know that PETA also operates a mobile spay/neuter clinic, the Spay and Neuter Immediately, Please (SNIP) mobile, which travels to disadvantaged neighborhoods and performs an average of 25 free or low-cost sterilizations every day.
People point fingers at PETA for doing the dirty work, yet the breeders who contribute to companion animal overpopulation and diminish shelter animals’ chances of being adopted seem to slip undetected under the radar of blame. From a financial standpoint alone, breeders are culpable: North Carolina’s taxpayers paid $33 million to pick up, shelter and ultimately dispose of the animals it killed in 2002. Now, pick up any Sunday paper and see how many ‘“purebred’” or ‘“AKC’” puppies are advertised, selling for $200, $500 and up. Does anyone truly believe these breeders are diligently reporting this income to our state revenue, or the IRS? Every tax payer is footing the bill for these irresponsible individuals to ‘follow their folly’ ‘— and every time someone purchases an animal from a breeder or pet store, a shelter animal pays with his life.
The millions of taxpayer dollars spent and the thousands of homeless animals killed in our state’s shelters are big numbers that are entirely controllable. The solution is simple, and anyone who cares about animals can agree that it is necessary and humane: Pass a law mandating spaying and neutering all companion animals in North Carolina. When it comes to dog and cat overpopulation, it’s time that we plugged the hole in the dam, instead of looking for more empty buckets.
The writer is the president and founder of North Carolina Voters for Animal Welfare
Local vocal is a guest column that runs periodically in YES! Weekly. The author’s opinions are their own and not necessarily those of YES! Weekly. To comment e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.