Frenemies

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The Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF) runs a website called petakillsanimals.com. The organization’s support comes from Agribusiness and other companies that exploit animals. Go on the website of petakillsanimals.com and you’ll find a litany of articles and postings attacking PETA for their hypocrisy and corruption. Read articles by PETA or PETA’s defenders and you’ll see plenty of articles attacking petakillsanimals.com. At first glance, you would think that they are mortal enemies. You’d be wrong. Scratch beneath the superficial surface, dig a little deeper and you’ll see that in fact serve each other’s bottom lines and allow each other to continue harming animals through a dysfunctional but symbiotic relationship.

Today, the number one cause of death for healthy dogs and cats in the U.S. is the local animal shelter. In spite of this, PETA defends killing shelters publicly, even when they abuse and kill animals. They defended shelters where puppies were drowned in trench drains, where staff abused them, where cats were not given water or food during a three-day weekend, and where sick and injured animals were allowed to suffer with no veterinary care so they would die and therefore not count in the statistics the shelter was required to report.

PETA also fights reform efforts nationwide, including legislation introduced by animal lovers in several states mandating simple, common sense procedures which would protect shelter animals: such as requiring shelters to provide prompt and necessary veterinary care rather than allow animals to suffer, to work with qualified non-profit rescue organizations rather than killing animals who have a place to go, and to end convenience killing for savable animals when there are empty kennels or cages. Not only has PETA itself killed 29,426 companion animals in the last 11 years, including those they themselves described as “healthy,” “adoptable,” “adorable,” and “perfect,” PETA has called for the round up and killing of healthy cats, too. It has called for a ban on all adoptions of healthy dogs if they look like a “pit bull,” supporting a policy requiring their automatic destruction. It defended a shelter’s “pit bull” ban, which resulted in the round up and killing of family pit bulls and then some of those dogs were sold by the “shelter” to vivisectors for $6 each after impound. It successfully defeated animal protection legislation that would have mandated that shelters not kill animals when non-profit rescue groups are willing to save those animals and which would have prohibited the common practice of killing animals when there are empty cages, a thoroughly reprehensible sheltering protocol which PETA endorses. And it disparages the motives of anyone who questions these actions, by claiming that people who want to end the killing of animals in shelters are not animal lovers, but “dangerous,” “radical,” “fanatics,” “slow kill hoarders” and people with a secret agenda to destroy the animal rights movement.

In fact, no matter what the issue, PETA invariably responds to criticism in the same way—by creating a diversion. First they defame those who are holding PETA accountable for their actions, stating but never giving proof how the concerns are “misinformation” or how, exactly, being concerned that PETA did something which harmed animals translates into supporting industries which harm animals, and then they simply change the subject: Ignore the issue, smear the messenger, then change the subject. It’s an effective sleight of hand used by PETA over and over again, and is a shield that comes courtesy of the Center for Consumer Freedom.

Anyone who loves animals should not embrace or support what the Center for Consumer Freedom stands for. That doesn’t change the fact that when it comes to their criticism of PETA’s killing of thousands of animals every year, they are correct. While the motivations may be entirely base, what they are saying is in fact true, even though on everything else they are entirely wrong. To borrow an old saying, even a broken clock is right twice a day. Moreover, it is not the Center for Consumer Freedom which is thwarting our effort to achieve a No Kill nation or build a better world for companion animals; rather, it is the leaders of organizations who are supposed to protect animals but instead betray them. It is also the legions of gullible grassroots activists who mindlessly come to their defense and eagerly dismiss all criticism of these organizations as a vast conspiracy of animal exploiters, thus allowing those betrayals to continue. Every time the Center for Consumer Freedom places an ad in a newspaper that exposes the grisly and disturbing truth about PETA’s killing, our response should be to address the hypocrisy and corruption being reported. Why? Because, tragically, they are true, and because those actions hurt animals: in the case of PETA because they literally inject thousands of animals a year with a fatal dose of poison.

Ignoring the corruption within the animal protection movement will not make that corruption go away, nor will it ever stop it from causing real harm to animals. Only by refusing to tolerate that corruption and demanding change can we ever hope to do that. Moreover, it is naïve to ignore that it is already well within the power of PETA to stop the ads that expose their hypocrisy and misdeeds if PETA leadership truly wanted to—by simply bringing their corruption to an end. Instead, PETA has found a clever way to deflect all criticism for their actions so they don’t have to change, allowing the killing and defense of killing to continue. PETA knowingly serves up ammunition to CCF on a silver platter then uses that same silver platter as a shield to defend itself against valid criticism by arguing that any censure of PETA is simply part of a vast conspiracy by animal exploiters. That is why—although I am a vegan who believes in animal rights, who believes in an end to the killing of animals for any reason, and who believes in everything that the CCF exists to oppose—I believe defending PETA for their hypocrisy and corruption hurts animals. The animal protection movement is hypocritical and it is inauthentic in its embrace of the killing of dogs and cats. And too many people who claim to love animals defend these groups anyway, putting their allegiance to organizations and the people who work at them before the very lives of animals.

Indeed, in promoting the corruption of the animal protection movement, the CCF has placed themselves in a Catch-22. Were the CCF to actually succeed in forcing reform, the animal protection movement as a whole would grow stronger. Should CCF succeed in reforming those practices of PETA of which they are most critical, their success would also be their own loss and the animals’ unequivocal gain. And that is why, in reality, CCF does not want PETA to reform. If they did, they could no longer attack them or the animal protection movement for hypocrisy and they would be forced to start fighting on the merits of the cause alone. And as the history of our country demonstrates, we are on the winning side of that debate. Those who work to eliminate the suffering and death of others—to build a kinder, gentler, and more just world—eventually triumph. But how can the animal protection movement get to that point if those in positions of leadership within the movement are inauthentic, promote killing, and time and again sell out those they are supposed to be protecting? As long as there are people in positions of leadership whose actions demonstrate that they do not really care about animals and who continue to undermine the authenticity of the movement that they are supposed to represent, the movement is hobbled, and therefore the longer animals will continue to suffer and die.

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