According to documents filed last week by PETA with the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS), the animal shelter killed 1,809 pets in 2017.
PETA’s kill rate stands out at 74 percent, a number which includes animals euthanizaed at an owner’s request or because the animal was critically hurt or dying.
Other Virginia shelters won’t have to turn in their numbers until the end of February, but last year the euthanization rate at comparable private shelters was only 9.4 percent and the overall state average was 17.3 percent.
Locally, euthanizations are much lower.
Of the 352 canines brought in by the Huron County Dog Warden, 11 were euthanized — eight of which were by request from the owners. That gives the dog warden a 3.1 percent euthanization rate with, or just 0.8 percent if you exclude the eight brought in exclusively to be put down.
“We (euthanize) if they’re aggressive,” said Gary Ousely, county dog warden.
The dog warden said he felt it was important to remove stray, aggressive dogs from the community to keep the citizens safe.
Owners must feel the same way.
“They brought them in for euthanization for being too sick or aggressive,” Ousely said.
The service carries a $50 fee for dogs 50 pounds or more, and a $25 fee for dogs less than 50 pounds.
At the Huron County Humane Society, 58 dogs and 45 cats were taken in by the organization. Of those, six canines and nine felines were put to sleep. That’s 14.6-percent of cats and dogs euthanized.
The humane society keeps its organization as a no-kill shelter. However, Evans said, there are circumstances that merit the act.
“The policy is we’re a no-kill shelter but there are some points where we have to euthanize, like if they’re sick or injured beyond repair,” Evans said.
“Sometimes we have hoarding cases, usually with cats, and that’s when they’re pretty sick. They’ve been hoarded together. Just from one location we had 51 cats last year. And some of the cats were very unapproachable and very sick. They were just feral. That might skew our numbers a little bit from that one incident.”
Health, age of the animal, disease and cost can sometimes play a roll in the decision as well.
“If it’s something that could take out the entire healthy population, then its immediate after the veterinary examination,” Evans said. “That’s like if it’s something like (parvovirus). Parvo’s not something you even want coming in your door. Or if it’s feline leukemia or feline AIDS. We can’t take those risks.”
Evans said there’s no set cost “cap” that would determine an animal is too expensive to save; it depends on the situation. She said these cases don’t happen very often due to the community’s generosity.
“We don’t make that decision without looking at every other possible option first,” she said. “Usually we’ll post about it on Facebook or something asking people for help and the community steps up.”
An inspection of PETA’s records by the state found that PETA kills the vast majority of animals within 24 hours — giving them only a small chance to find a new home.
According to the CCF, in some cases, PETA doesn’t necessarily wait to get back to its shelter to kill the animals. The organization said last year PETA paid nearly $50,000 to a family after its employees snatched the family dog off of a porch and then killed it in their van as they sped away.
PETA co-founder and president Ingrid Newkirk has made remarks against pet ownership in the past, CCF reported.
Newkirk has said, “Pet ownership is an absolutely abysmal situation brought about by human manipulation” and, “I think it would be lovely if we stopped this whole notion of pets altogether.”
“PETA is running a slaughterhouse under the guise of an animal shelter,” Coggin said. “You can’t spell ‘death penalty’ without ‘PETA.’”
PETA’s policies and data though also reveal the reasons behind some of the euthanizations. For example, the organization said all wildlife euthanized (31 creatures) were critically injured and/or dying.
In 2017, PETA said it helped more than 25,000 animals from more than 250 cities, and spent more than $2,500,000 on local companion-animal services.
According to PETA's shelter intake policy, it is one of the few that still provide end-of-life services for destitute owners desperate to alleviate their animals' suffering. This accounted for 724 of those euthanization in 2017. Many were referred by other local animal shelters and veterinary clinics, PETA said in its year-end report.
PETA's free/low-cost mobile clinics sterilized 13,317 animals, including 1,410 pit bulls and 731 feral cats.
“We transported more than 1,200 animals to and from the clinics free of charge,” the report said.
“PETA assisted more than 3,000 families in keeping animals by providing medical services, including repairing prolapsed organs, performing surgeries on dogs suffering from life-threatening uterine infections, removing tumors and ruptured growths, performing drainage surgery for hematomas and infected wounds, treating various infections, and by showing them how to cope with behavioral quirks, grooming challenges, and more.
“We distributed 267 doghouses and almost 1,500 bales of straw bedding free to ‘outdoor’ dogs.”