07/16/2012 09:01 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

PETA Protests San Francisco's 'Puppies For Panhandlers' Plan (VIDEO)

PETA has some beef with San Francisco.

Earlier this week, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals expressed outrage at a San Francisco restaurant for taking advantage of a convenient loophole in California's foie gras ban. But now the group has its sights squarely on the city--more specifically, its plan to pay panhandlers to care for shelter dogs.


Last month, former supervisor Bevan Dufty, who now oversees HOPE (Housing Opportunity, Partnerships and Engagement), proposed a plan to pay homeless individuals to care for dogs in need. The proposal aims to tackle both panhandling and the growing population at city animal shelters.

In order for panhandlers to get a dog, they would need to live in supportive housing (not on the streets) and could not be severely mentally ill, have a history of violence or be seeking treatment for addiction. They also would no longer be allowed to panhandle. In exchange, caretakers would be given a stipend ($50-75 per week) and all of the dog food, supplies and veterinary services needed.

But according to PETA, the plan is poorly conceived.

"This is a lose-lose situation for both populations," said PETA spokesperson Daphne Nachminovitch to The Huffington Post. "The last thing that people who are struggling to take care of themselves need is to care for psychologically damaged dogs."

According to the city's plan, dogs who are eligible for the program would be ones who are "not socialized and are rowdy, hyper or too shy to interact with humans."

"These are exactly the kind dogs who need extra care and attention, preferably from trained professionals," said Nachminovitch.

PETA issued a letter to Mayor Lee blasting the program and urging him to eliminate it.

"Most former panhandlers are financially destitute because of because of struggles with substance abuse and mental-health issues of their own," wrote PETA. "Placing any animal with them is risky at best. [...] It should be out of the question to play Russian roulette with these animals."

The group also offered to pay $10,000 to Animal Care and Control--the same amount donated by Vanessa Getty to kickstart the program.

In an interview with CBS, Dufty expressed disappointment with PETA for its assumptions about San Francisco's disadvantaged community. "I think there is a tremendous amount of compassion and humanity on the part of individuals that are homeless and I am disappointed that PETA can't tap into that humanity," he said.

Watch CBS's video on the protest below: