People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals

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People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) was founded in 1980 with the goal of establishing and defending the rights of animals. It is an international, nonprofit charitable organization based in Norfolk, Virginia and with affiliates worldwide.


PETA's operating principle is that 'animals are not ours to eat, wear, experiment on or use for entertainment'. They endeavor to educate policymakers and the public about animal abuse and promote kindness to animals.[1] PETA is the largest animal rights organization in the world with over 2 million members and supporters.

PETA focuses on the four areas where the largest numbers of animals suffer the most and for the longest: factory farms, animal testing, clothing and the entertainment industry. Other issues include wild life protection and cruelty to domestic animals. PETA is involved in public education, investigations, research, rescue, legislation, special events, celebrity involvement and protest campaigns. [2] Accomplishments include closing the largest horse slaughter operation in the U.S.; closing a Department of Defense (DoD) laboratory where animals were being shot and abolishing the use of dogs and cats in "wound laboratories". [3] Their investigations have exposed animal abuse in numerous laboratories leading to canceled funding, closure and hundreds of U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) charges. They have cleaned up substandard shelters, assisted schools in dissection alternatives and provided materials on vegetarianism, companion animal care and other issues to millions. [4] At the local level, PETA provides free services to animal shelters, constructs shelters and provides free spay/neuter services. [5] Departments include News & campaigns, Media Center, Literature and Peta Kids. Websites include, and

Campaigns & programs

Vegetarian 101: Animals, health & environment

PETA investigation of PA Land O' Lakes supplier. - 2009

Factory farmed chickens, turkeys and pigs spend their lives in dark, crowded warehouses. Often, they do not even have sufficient space to turn around and sit in their own wastes with the stench of ammonia filling the air. They are also bred and drugged to grow faster and larger than normal and become crippled under their own weight. Some factory farmed animals can barely move and die inches from their water supply. They never see the sun or get a breath of fresh air until the day they are prodded and crammed onto trucks bound for the slaughterhouse. In transport, animals endure weather extremes in unheated, unventilated trucks, without food or water. Many die before they even reach the slaughterhouse, where they are hung upside-down while their throats are slit. Due to the fast paced slaughter process, many animals are improperly stunned and are conscious while their throats are slit. Also, many survive the slaughter process and are still alive when they are skinned, dismembered or scalded in tanks. It is estimated that a vegetarian diet saves 100 animals a year. See also animals raised & hunted for food & Land O' Lakes .

The leading causes of death in the U.S. are linked to meat based diets; heart disease, cancer, obesity and strokes. The only two doctors in history who reversed heart disease included vegetarian diets in their programs. Vegans are one ninth as likely to be obese and thier cancer rate is 40% that of meat consumers. Meat consumption also contributes to osteoporosis, arthritis, Alzheimer's, allergies, diabetes and food poisoning. Over half the water in the U.S. is used for animal agriculture. Farmed animals produce 130 times more excrement than the human population which pollutes inland water and emits gasses which contribute to global warming. Forests are destroyed for farmed animals and crops to feed them; contributing to soil erosion, species extinction and global warming. 70% of the grains and 1/3 of all the raw materials and fossil fuels used in the U.S. go to raising animals for food. [6] See also meat & dairy industry, sections 4 & 5 & section 6 on animal products & health issues.

Animal testing

Four month PETA investigation of Oregon National Primate Research Center. - 2007

PETA has convinced numerous corporations to cease cruel product testing on animals including PepsiCo and Coca-Cola. It also pressured Proctor & Gamble, the parent company of Iams into ceasing cruel and invasive experiments on dogs and cats. It has conducted investigations on some of the worst offenders for animal welfare violations, including Huntingdon Life Sciences, Covance Laboratories, Sinclair Research Center, Carolina Biological Supply Company, Oregon National Primate Research Center, Columbia University and University of N. Carolina, Chapel Hill. [7] See also ten worst laboratories. They also campaign against March of Dimes, American Cancer Society and Muscular Dystrophy Association, which fund animal testing. [8]

Over 90% of the animals used in experimentation are excluded from the Animal Welfare Act (AWA), the only federal law which over sees animal testing. Rats, mice, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish are expressly eliminated from all safeguards. Species not covered under the AWA do not even have to be reported. [9], [10] Thousands of rats, mice, rabbits, dogs, and primates are killed in "pre-clinical" tests for new drugs (including all ingredients and even minor differences in formulas). Following an extensive battery of animal testing, drugs generally undergo three phases of clinical trials. The fact that months or years of human studies are also required suggests health authorities do not trust the results. [11] In 2004, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reported that 92 out of every 100 drugs that successfully pass animal trials, subsequently fail human trials. [12], [13] See also animal testing, sections 1 through 3.

Animals used for clothing

Wool. Australia's 100 million sheep produce 30% of the world's wool. Holdings consist of thousands of sheep so that individual attention (even to medical emergencies) is impossible. Merinos are bred to have wrinkly skin to produce more wool This unnatural condition may cause sheep to collapse or die of heat exhaustion. Wrinkles also collect urine and moisture. Flies lay eggs in the folds of the sheep's skin and hatched maggots can eat the sheep alive. To prevent "flystrike", ranchers perform "mulesing", a barbaric procedure which forces a sheep on its back, restrains legs between metal bars and slices hunks of flesh from the tail area. Museling is performed with out painkillers, the purpose ostensibly being to produce a scar which cannot harbor eggs. However, exposed wounds often get flystrike also.

Lamb's ears are hole-punched and their tails are chopped off at a few weeks of age. Between 2 and 8 weeks old, males are castrated without painkillers. A rubber ring is used to cut off the blood supply to their testicles (one of the most painful methods) or they are cut out. Hundreds of lambs die every year from exposure or starvation, before the age of 8 weeks. Sheep die of disease, exposure and neglect. [14] Over half of the world's merino wool comes from Austrialia. Merino wool is used in clothing, carpets and other products. Millions of these sheep are also shipped to middle eastern countries on journeys which may last for months. They are then dragged off the ships and loaded onto trucks. At unregulated slaughterhouses, they are dragged by ears and legs where their throats slit while conscious. [15]

Leather. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, animal skins represent "the most economically important byproduct" of the multi-billion dollar meatpacking industry. Leather products also come from slaughtered horses, sheep, lambs, goats, and pigs. Species of animals who are hunted specifically for their skins include: zebras, bison, water buffaloes, boars, kangaroos, elephants, eels, sharks, dolphins, seals, walruses, frogs, turtles, crocodiles, lizards, and snakes. [16]

Fur. Animals on fur ranches spend their entire lives in tiny cages. They are killed by anal or genital electrocution, which causes them to have a heart attack. Some are animals are even skinned alive. Trapped animals may languish for days in traps before they die or are killed. [17] Millions of fur-bearing animals including foxes, raccoons, minks, coyotes, bobcats, lynxes, opossums, nutria, beavers, muskrats, otters, and others are killed each year on fur farms by anal and vaginal electrocution and in the wild by drowning, trapping, or beating. [18] See also War on Animals, section 5.

Wild Life

Millions of animals are killed every year because they are considered "pests". These animals include beavers, bats, geese, deer, pigeons, mice, raccoons, snakes, and squirrels who suffer barbaric and cruel deaths. Other "nuisance" animals include bears, coyotes, ducks, foxes, mountain lions, prairie dogs, rabbits and even wolves. [19] See also War on Animals, section 6.

Animals used in entertainment

Footage of beating and other primate abuse in entertainment industry

Elephants, bears, tigers and other animals used for entertainment in circuses, rodeos and zoos are often abused by their trainers. They also suffer from loneliness, boredom and frustration from being locked in tiny cages or chained and abused by trainers, they suffer from extreme loneliness, boredom, and frustration from being locked in tiny cages month after month while traveling from city to city in Circuses, etc. Animals are loaded on and off trucks and into "storage areas", like furniture. [20]

Former Las Vegas entertainer and animal trainer Bobby Berosini, sued PETA, another animal rights group and three individuals after a dancer secretly videotaped him shaking, punching and hitting his orangutans with a rod in the Stardust Hotel in 1989. Nevada's Supreme Court ruled that the tape was an accurate portrayal and not defamatory since Mr. Berosini justified his behavior. [21], [22]

Companion animals

Puppy mills & pet stores. Puppy mill "kennels" can be anything from small wood and wire mesh cages to tractor-trailer cabs or simply dogs tethered to trees. An Arkansas puppy mill had dogs imprisoned in cages hanging from the ceiling in an unheated, cinder block building. Female dogs are bred twice a year and destroyed when they can no longer produce litters for sale. Dogs and their puppies often suffer from malnutrition, exposure and lack of veterinary care. Puppies who survive unsanitary and abusive puppy mills must then endure grueling transport conditions. Brokers pack puppies for sale into crates to transport to pet stores. They are shipped in pick-up trucks, tractor trailers or air planes, often lacking adequate food and water, ventilation and shelter. Conditions don't improve much when they arrive at the pet store. Dogs are kept in small cages without exercise or socialization. [23] See also puppy mills.

Over population & shelters. The pet industry and people who do not spay and neuter their pets, have created a huge problem of pet overpopulation. Breeders and pet stores profit off of companion animals, even though millions of animals sit in over crowded shelters and millions more are euthanized every year. [24] Dogs, cats and other companion animals spend days, weeks or months in shelters. If they are not claimed or adopted after a certain period of time, they are euthanized by injection. In some rural animal shelters, animals are shot, gassed in metal boxes or injected with a paralytic agent that slowly suffocates them. In some "no-kill" shelters, cats are kept in cages for their entire lives. When these shelters fill up, needy animals are turned away. [25], [26] See also War on Animals, section 7.

Strays & Class B dealers. Strays and feral animals may starve, freeze or be hit by cars. [27] Some are also picked up by Class B dealers or "bunchers" who sell them to laboratories as part of a complex network supplying animals for vivisection. An estimated 2 million animals a year are stolen in the United States, often out of their own yards in broad daylight. [28] A 1990 A PETA investigation revealed that the largest suppliers of animals for dissection depend on Class B dealers to keep their inventory well stocked. See also Carolina Biological Supply Company.

Dog chaining. Particularly in rural areas, many dogs spend their entire lives chained to a tree or a stake or trapped in a small pen in "solitary confinement". Many communities in the U.S. and the world have established laws to passed legislation to limit chaining and penning or outlaw it altogether. Dog chaining is also dangerous, especially for children. [29] See also War on Animals, section 7.

Exotic pet trade

See also U.S. Global Exotics.

Other campaigns

See also Humane Movement, section 8.

Local programs in Virginia & North Carolina

PETA advocates for chained and "backyard dogs". [30] They have delivered straw and hundreds of free, sturdy dog houses, rescued dogs and cats and paid for their veterinary care. They provide free services to animal shelters, construct shelters and provide free spay/neuter services for local communities. PETA built a cat shelter in an area where cats had been abandoned to breed and are building a new shelter for a local municipality.[31]

NC shelters & gas chambers

In 2000, PETA was contacted by a police officer who was appalled by the terrible suffering of animals in local North Carolina shelters. Some "shelters" were nothing more than exposed, unheated or cooled shacks that left animals to either drown or freeze, depending on the weather. PETA became involved in assisting shelters with cleaning, adoptions, training, staff, providing supplies, conducting cruelty investigations and providing adequate shelter to animals. PETA has spent over $300,000 on services to NC shelters in the last few years. Many pounds in the area had no adoption programs or even operating hours. Unwanted animals were either shot, gassed in windowless metal boxes or injected with a paralytic agent that caused them to slowly die of suffocation. These practices were carried out for decades until PETA began providing humane euthanasia. Although veterinary services for lethal injection were secured for one of the four pounds they discovered, animals at the other shelters would have been gassed, shot or died of suffocation had they not been picked up by PETA staff for euthanasia.

Although some of the animals have been adopted out, most of the dogs and cats from NC shelters have suffered from various debilitating conditions. These include Parvo, heart worms, mange, Lyme disease, untreated injuries, embedded collars, broken and exposed bones and severe parasitic infestations. [32], [33]

NC euthanisia statistics & gas chambers

Over 250,000 homeless animals are killed in NC shelters annually. In NC, over 20 county shelters still use gas chambers and other inhumane methods. Animals gasp for breath while they slowly suffocate. Witnesses have seen animals struggling and wailing for up to ten minutes before succumbing to carbon monoxide poisoning. In their panic, some bite themselves and each other and beat their heads against the walls while they choke and vomit. Groups of up to 25 animals are gassed together and some will not die the first time. Even low levels of carbon monoxide from malfunctioning gas chambers may cause health problems. A Tennessee shelter employee died from asphyxiation while unloading dogs from a gas chamber. At least 3 NC gas chambers have exploded and four government employees who operate gas chambers have died from heart and lung problems in recent years.[34]

One of the biggest proponents for gas chambers in NC is Ralph Houser, DVM, whom many credit as solely responsible for the reluctance of the NC Board of Agriculture to ban them. Dr. Houser sits on the board of the NC Animal Rabies Control Association. He not only advocates for gas chambers, he manufactures and sells them. He also recommends gassing for puppies, kittens and sick animals. It is believed that Dr. Houser recommends going against recommendations that only small numbers of animals, and never sick or very young animals be gassed, is that the chambers lose their "cost effectiveness" when used properly. An alarming number of animals have survived gassing and even been found alive in garbage dumps by civilians. In 2003, a woman who had adopted puppies from Sampson County Animal Control, was informed that they had survived gassing. She had spent thousands of dollars on their medical bills. [35]

After media frenzy, PETA resumes work in NC

After a trial that lasted as long as some capitol murder cases and caused a media frenzy in rural NC, a jury acquitted two PETA employees of animal cruelty charges. The employees had dumped the bodies of euthanized animals during the long drive from Bertie County, NC to Norfolk, VA, after they had started to smell. PETA performed humane euthanasia by injection for the shelter, which used a gas chamber. They had been involved with the shelter since being contacted by a local police officer in 2000. At the time, the shelter had no roof and dogs' cages flooded during rains. One dog was caught eating a cat. After the verdict, PETA announced that they would resume their work in NC. [36] Prior to PETA taking over euthanasia services, animals in Bertie County were either shot or gassed in a rusty, windowless box. Bertie County has since discontinued the use of gas chambers. [37]

Emergency calls, rescues & "selective admission"

National organizations conduct research, public education, outreach and assist local shelters. However, PETA also answers emergency calls for strays, abused, neglected and homeless animals and animals turned away from shelters. For example, the local branch of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) in Norfolk, Virginia has a "selective admission" policy. In 2004, it took in only 1.7 percent of all homeless animals, or 765 out of 45,450. [38] They do not operate an animal shelter other than two small, cageless rooms set aside for animals surrendered to their organization. According to an employee:

"The day before the holiday, I took in a young dog who had lived his entire life in a crate. ...he was so afraid that even if I crouched down and talked softly to him, he urinated all over himself. ...On Saturday, a man drove into the PETA parking lot and handed over a cat. ...The cat he turned in was diabetic and dying. It cost hundreds of dollars to stabilize his little body, and in the end no one wanted him. On Sunday, I managed to find a climber who spent more than four hours rescuing a cat from 40 feet up a tree. ...this cat had been up there for three days in the heat and rain. The fire department and animal control would not help. I'm hoping that someone will claim him, but usually no one does. Last week, although PETA is not an animal shelter, my colleagues and I answered 57 calls to pick up 101 unwanted, sick, aged, and dying animals, including a sweet 13-year-old cocker spaniel who had gone deaf and blind and had multiple tumors. There were no prospects for her either." [39]

Summary & VDACS On-line Animal Reporting

PETA administers humane euthanasia services for at least four shelters (where animals might otherwise by shot or gassed). Also, due to lack of facility space from area "no-kill" shelters; other "unadoptable", homeless and/ or owner surrenders are often dumped on the premises or into the care of staff members. However, the fact that VA and NC permit this organization to take responsibility for animals (who would otherwise be left to fend for themselves or killed inhumanely) does not alter the fact that PETA is an advocacy organization, not a shelter. They make no such claim to their members or anyone else. For complete statistics, see also Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) On-line Animal Reporting.[40]

Anti-PETA disinformation campaigns

Anti-PETA propaganda and disinformation campaigns are generated by industry front groups such as the Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF). Such organizations have clients who have been subjects of PETA campaigns and investigations for animal cruelty and welfare violations. They also perceive the general direction of their advocacy as a threat to commercial interests. See also A visit to the web site & Richard Berman cares about animals: clients exposed.

Not only do these groups have no interest in animal welfare, pet overpopulation or euthanasia, they often campaign directly against animal welfare legislation and perpetuate overpopulation. The National Animal Interest Alliance (NAIA) is particularly concerned with PETA's spay/neuter and anti-puppy mill advocacy. NAIA director and founder, Patti Strand, is a board member of the American Kennel Club (AKC), which is funded by commercial dog breeding operations or puppy mills. See also NAIA & AKC. The Americans for Medical Progress (AMP) and the National Association for Biomedical Research (NABR), are also industry-funded organizations whose clients have been subjects of PETA investigations and campaigns. Long time Washington lobbyist Frankie Trull is founder and president of several industry funded groups, including NABR and Policy Directions Inc. She was previously instrumental in passing the draconian Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA) and blocking reforms to the Animal Welfare Act (AWA). See also NABR & the Animal Welfare Act. Policy Directions clients include Covance Laboratories, the largest importer of primates in the U.S. and the world's largest breeder of laboratory dogs; as well as Charles River, the world's largest supplier of laboratory animals and the second largest importer of laboratory primates. See also Policy Directions Inc..

See also Conservatives target the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. For more general information, see also Humane Movement.

Financial statement & salaries

PETA reported $34,568,954 dollars in total revenue for the fiscal year ending in July 31, 2009. The breakdown for this amount was $32,242,134 in donations; 1,033,519 in gross merchandise sales and $1,293,301 in interest, dividends, royalties and other income. According to their financial statement, PETA is funded almost exclusively by member contributions. Funds are utilized in the most effective and efficient way possible. 80.87% of operating expenses went directly into programs addressing animal exploitation. Only 15.09% was spent on fund raising and 4.04% on administration. 32% of PETA's staff earn annual salaries of between $14,383 and $29,999; 44% earn $29,000 to $39,999 and only 24% earn over $39,999. PETA's president, Ingrid Newkirk, earned $36,997 in 2009.

A detailed breakdown of expenses is available on their financial statement, which was independently audited.[41]

Staff & board

  • Ingrid Newkirk - President & co-founder - In 1970, Ms. Newkirk became involved in a local shelter, cleaning kennels and investigating cruelty cases. She also served as a Maryland law enforcement officer and achieved its highest success rate in abuse convictions. She was the director of cruelty investigations for the second oldest humane society in the country and chief of animal disease control for the Commission on Public Health. Ms. Newkirk created the first free spay/neuter clinic in Washington, D.C. After co-founding PETA, she coordinated the first arrest of a laboratory researcher on cruelty charges in U.S. history. She spear headed the closure of the DoD's underground wound laboratory and ended General Motors' crash tests on animals. She helped to pass the first animal welfare law in Taiwan. She is the author of several books on animals, activism and vegetarian cooking.[42]
  • Bruce Friedrich - Vice President, International Grassroots Campaigns - Mr. Friedrich graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Iowa's Grinnell College with majors in English and economics and a minor in religious studies. He spent six years working in a Washington, DC homeless shelter and soup kitchen before joining PETA in 1996. [43] Mr. Friedrich is a founding member of the Society for Ethical and Religious Vegetarians. He is also on the board of the Catholic Vegetarian Society and the Christian Vegetarian Association. [44]
  • Alex Pacheco - Chair & co-founder [45]
  • Jannette Patterson - Executive Director
  • MaryBeth Sweetland - Vice President
  • Michael Rodman - Treasurer & Director
  • Jeanne Roush - Director
  • Sara Taylor - Veterinarian
  • Dan Matthews - Vice President, Campaigns
  • Michael McGraw - Director, Media Relations
  • Debra Durham - Primate Specialist
  • Dawn Carr - Media Coordinator [46]


People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals
501 Front St.
Norfolk, VA 23510

Phone: 757-622-PETA (7382)

Web address:

Articles & sources

SourceWatch articles


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  2. PETA's Mission Statement, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, accessed August 2011
  3. PETA's History: Compassion in Action, PETA Media Center, accessed August 2011
  4. Heather Moore PETA: Putting Compassion Into Action for 26 Years American Chronicle, August 2006
  5. PETA’s Work Helping Animals in North Carolina,, accessed February 2009
  6. Vegetarian 101,, accessed February 2009
  7. Rick Weiss Lab animal abuses caught on PETA tape: Group circulates spy video to Congress, Washington Post, April 2002
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  9. The Animal Care Program and the USDA's Authority Under the AWA: Q & A, U.S. Department of Agriculture, APHIS Fact Sheet, July 2005, page 2
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  16. Whose Skin are you in?,, accessed February 2009
  17. Animals Used for Clothing, PETA Action Center, accessed February 2009
  18. There is Simply no Excuse for Fur,, accessed February 2009
  19. Helping Wildlife,, accessed February 2009
  20. Animals Used for Entertainment, PETA Action Center, accessed February 2009
  21. High court throws out $4.2 million judgment animal trainer won in libel, privacy suit, Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, February 1994
  22. PETA v. Bobby Berosini, Ltd.; Counsel: Robert D. Martin, Las Vegas, January 1994
  23. Puppy Mills: Dogs Abused for the Pet Trade, helping, accessed February 2009
  24. Animal Exploitation, PETA Action Center, accessed February 2009
  25. Lindsay Pollard Post One Cat Rescued, Millions More to Go, Elites TV, 2004
  26. Euthanasia: The compassionate option,, accessed February 2008
  27. Spay/Neuter Immediately,, accessed February 2009
  28. Animal Dealers: Licensed to Kill,, accessed February 2009
  29. The Cruel, Dangerous Practice of Chaining Dogs,, accessed February 2009
  30. The Cruel, Dangerous Practice of Chaining Dogs,, accessed February 2009
  31. PETA’s Work Helping Animals in North Carolina,, accessed February 2009
  32. PETA’s Work Helping Animals in North Carolina,, accessed February 2009
  33. PETA’s Work Helping Animals in NC: Adopted animals,, accessed January 2010
  34. Cruel Killing, Funded By Your Taxes, NC Commission for Humane Euthanasia, accessed February 2010
  35. Denise LeBeau Pet Overpopulation and Euthanasia in NC: An interview with Peter MacQueen III, Animal Law Coalition, August 2007
  36. Kristin Collins PETA pair guilty only of littering, NC News & Observer, February 2007
  37. PETA’s Work Helping Animals in North Carolina,, accessed January 2009
  38. Behind the Numbers: ‘Turn-Away Shelters’, helping, February 2009
  39. How I Spent My Fourth of July Holiday,, accessed May 2009
  40. Virginia Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services On-line Animal Reporting, PETA, 2008
  41. About: Financial Reports,, accessed January 2011
  42. Ingrid Newkirk's Biography,, accessed February 2009
  43. Bruce Friedrich, Wikipedia, accessed December 2008
  44. Advisory board, Christian Vegetarian Association, 2007
  45. Animal Welfare, Humane and Animal Rights Advisory Board, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, accessed October 20, 2009
  46. "People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals: General info," GuideStar, accessed February 2008

External articles

External resources