People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has been the scourge of those it considers contemptuous of animal rights. Because of its fierce advocacy, PETA has claimed moral pre-eminence among pro-animal groups.
But a New York Times report on PETA's refusal to adopt a "no kill" shelter model has tarnished its image. The story said the PETA animal shelter in Norfolk, Va., kills an average of 2,000 dogs and cats annually -- this is at a time when animal adoptions are up dramatically at non-PETA shelters where a "no kill" policy is in effect.
The PETA facility placed only 19 animals in adoptions in 2012 and only 24 the year before. It euthanized most of the animals it has made a duty to protect. The same is true of PETA's New York shelter. Non-PETA shelters in New York City are able to place up to 90 percent of their dogs and cats in adoptive homes.
PETA says no-kill shelters warehouse animals for years in cages and that other animals are so injured or sick that euthanasia is the most humane option. That may be, but no-kill shelters still strive to place animals with welcoming households -- and PETA should do the same.
As word spreads about PETA's high use of euthanization, the animal-rights group itself could become the subject of protest. If PETA cannot commit to the "no kill" philosophy practiced by organizations in the pro-animal community, it will forfeit the moral right to speak out about others' inhumane actions.