THE BLOG
02/06/2013 11:23 am ET | Updated Apr 07, 2013

PETA's Actual Death Toll

This is a follow-up to yesterday's article, "How Many Pets Did PETA Kill in 2012?"

I was generous yesterday when I suggested that PETA's monstrous kill rate in 2012 was in fact, for them, an improvement. The official documents, yes, demonstrate that PETA killed only 89.2 per cent of pets taken in -- as opposed to the 95 to 97 per cent in prior years -- but these documents do not tell the whole truth.

Since we don't have precise data, I chose to ignore an important category in the report that PETA submitted to the Virginia Department of Agriculture: animals that were "Transferred to Another Virginia Releasing Agency."

The term "releasing" here should make you shudder. We know just who PETA "releases" pets to: that looming presence many cultures refuse to name, for fear that he'll visit at midnight. And we know that this is also true of the operations that they approve of: PETA refuses to transfer animals to No Kill facilities, for ideological reasons that I've analyzed here: "Why is PETA Opposing No-Kill Animal Shelters?"

This means that many if not most of the 108 dogs and 22 cats transferred to other "releasing agencies" are no longer with us.

Nathan Winograd, who heads up the No Kill Advocacy Center, has performed the calculations:

If the animals transferred to kill shelters were themselves killed, or displaced other animals who were then killed to take in the ones from PETA, the death toll could be as high as 96%. If those disposed of under "Miscellaneous" ("The number of animals that were disposed in a manner which is not consistent with the other designated categories") also died, the death toll is as high as 98%.

These grotesque numbers would not, as I say, be anomalous: they are in fact what we expected. For Ingrid Newkirk, they are the norm.

It is interesting to put this in the context of a favorite PETA lie: one that I've encountered increasingly in recent months. For those unfamiliar with the No Kill program, I've gone into detail here, in "The Humane Alternative to PETA's Pet Slaughter." The essence is this: a No Kill shelter is an open-admission shelter that has achieved a live release rate of at least 90 per cent -- the inverse of PETA's gruesome accomplishment. The No Kill network is nationwide, and growing: at last count, 89 communities had achieved this. They are documented at No Kill News.

You will encounter a focused campaign of propaganda aimed at discrediting No Kill, but the fiction I encounter most frequently these days is especially ironic: we are told that No Kill shelters achieve a 90-per-cent success rate only by surreptitiously shipping animals off to high-kill facilities. I'll allow Nathan Winograd himself to answer that:

When I ran the shelter in Tompkins County, NY, we worked with rescue groups only under an agreement that if they could not place the animal, they would have to return the animal to us. They were not permitted to kill the animal. We once sent a cat to a rescue group on Long Island, a five hour drive. The cat was adopted and returned two times because she was incontinent (she peed with no control). They called us and told us they could not place her. I sent a volunteer to pick her up. We ultimately placed her.

Our save rate was 93%. In fact, only a small percentage went through rescue. We adopted the majority ourselves. In Washoe County, the Nevada Humane Society sends very few animals through rescue. They adopt almost all of them out themselves. I can't speak to every community with a 90% save rate, but I can say that the notion that someone else has to do the killing to achieve a communitywide save rate of 90% or better is a lie.

PETA's advocates, however, desperately want this to be true. Why? Because it would mean that their critics shared the ethical burden of what PETA has proven guilty of, again and again: sending healthy creatures off to be killed elsewhere.

We do not have this year's precise statistics regarding the deaths attributable to this policy (should we call it a "program"?) -- all we know is that the number cannot be negligible. If you refuse to send animals to No Kill shelters, then a great many will be killed. It is a fact.

Hence, yesterday's report has to be modified with this in mind: PETA's official 89.2-per-cent kill rate represents only the bodies that the government has forced them to count -- the pets dispatched personally by PETA employees, either at headquarters or in one of their mobile units. The actual kill rate is certainly well into 90 per cent, and perhaps at the upper reaches of that. We know that only 1 per cent of pets were adopted out (a disgrace by any measure). The true cost of PETA's viciousness in 2012 -- the toll taken upon innocent creatures -- will never be fully known.