A photo of a dead puppy given to me in 2015 by a PETA employee. 

January 31 marked the last day “shelters” in Virginia could submit statistics for 2018 to the Virginia Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services. And PETA’s statistics, as they often are, were posted on the last possible day. It should come as no surprise. In 2018, PETA once again continued to act as the functional equivalent of a slaughterhouse.

Those records reveal that 1,162 out of 1,557 cats were put to death, a kill rate of 75%. Since PETA historically refuses to work with No Kill shelters, it sent another 376 to other facilities. If history is any guide, they went mostly to various pounds. In past years, a large portion of those cats have been killed, including very young healthy cats and kittens, often within minutes. If the same holds true in 2018 and they were killed or they displaced other cats who were killed, that could put the overall death rate as high as 99% for cats. They only adopted out 17 cats, a 1% adoption rate.

Likewise, PETA killed 609 out of 911 dogs, a kill rate of 67%. Another 282 were transferred to various organizations (a couple of rescue groups) and pounds. The dogs had a 2% adoption rate.

Finally, 67% of “other companion animals” and 77% of “farm animals” were also killed.

These harrowing statistics — preceded by evidence of PETA misdeeds such as the taking and killing of Maya, a family’s dog, from her property and reports by a former employee that she was instructed to lie to people in order to acquire their animals to kill, to underreport the amount of barbiturates she used to kill animals so PETA could kill other animals “off books,” and that killing was “standard operating procedure” (you can also listen to an interview with her) — comes on the heels of PETA’s futile attempt to muzzle my efforts as a journalist to expose this conduct.

PETA demanded in court that I reveal the names of other PETA employees who spoke to me on condition of anonymity about PETA’s killing of animals. The information these employees provided was used to corroborate newspaper articles, on the record sources, government documents received under the Public Records Act, testimony and information from civil and criminal cases against PETA, videotape evidence, and admissions of killing by PETA officials. Their testimony was used for a series of articles and ultimately became a book, Why PETA Kills.

The PETA employees agreed to speak with me as whistleblowers. They expressed grave concerns about what they saw and wanted the public to know. They trusted me with the information and with protecting their identity because they reasonably fear retribution. Because I refused to reveal their names during a deposition, PETA filed a motion to compel disclosure.

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, the organization founded by legendary Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee of Watergate and Pentagon Papers fame, issued a statement saying PETA’s efforts would undermine the First Amendment and “should be alarming for all newsgatherers.”

The Press Freedom Defense Fund agreed, coming to my defense. In a statement, they wrote, that “Large corporations rely on costly legal tactics to bully and scare journalists. Investigative reporting must be protected.” PETA takes in over $60 million per year and uses the court system as a sword (fortunately, it often loses). In a recent case, a Federal Court of Appeal chastised it for putting its own interests ahead of the animals.

Thankfully, the Court in my case, “People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals v. Winograd” (California Superior Court, Alameda County, RG18907174), likewise agreed. PETA’s motion was denied.

The Press Freedom Defense Fund underscored the importance of that legal victory, writing,

Citizen journalist and animal rights blogger Nathan Winograd has obtained an important First Amendment victory for citizen journalists and advocacy journalism….

The ruling by the California Superior Court establishes that non-traditional journalists, including bloggers and advocates, have the right under the California Constitution… to protect the identity of anonymous sources.

The 2018 statistics are available by clicking here.