Best Friends Blog

PETA’s “better off dead” philosophy

An article in the current issue of PETA’s Animal Times magazine attempts to paint the no-kill movement with the same brush as hoarders. Their argument doesn’t hold water and is a predictable recitation of their “killing is kindness” mantra.

As usual when discussing PETA, I have mixed emotions. PETA is one of the most influential and world-changing animal organizations, but they  missed the boat on no-kill and have been clinging to the dock ever since.

To be clear, there is no similarity between hoarding and no-kill. Hoarding is a mental disability that may be linked to obsessive-compulsive disorder. Animal hoarders are no friends of no-kill, and Best Friends and others in the no-kill movement have led the way in exposing and bringing hoarders to justice.

The no-kill, or No More Homeless Pets, movement, on the other hand, is aAdoption wins the race to No More Homeless Pets systematic approach to ending the killing of homeless pets through enhanced adoption, spay/neuter, public education and pet retention programs. That takes planning, work, imagination and leadership. It is not only doable, it has already been achieved in communities across the country. PETA, however, apparently doesn’t regard homeless pets as worth the necessary effort if they believe that a national population in excess of 300 million people can’t absorb 3.5 to 4 million pets a year. All it takes is a slight shift in the sourcing of the 17 million new pet acquisitions annually away from breeders and pet stores to adoptions from shelters and rescues along with a concurrent reduction in shelter intake through spay/neuter and pet owner education.

Ironically, and more to the point, PETA’s presiding mentality on pets appears to overlap that of a hoarder at the motivational level: obsessive control of pets and an almost phobic aversion to risk when it comes to trusting the public with the care of animals.

Hoarders believe that no one but themselves can be trusted to look after their animals, so they keep them under lock and key. They are blind to the pain and suffering they inflict as a result of their obsessive risk aversion.

PETA, too, is obsessively risk-averse when it comes to pets. Like hoarders, they believe that most people can’t be trusted with the care of a pet, but rather than keep them under lock and key, PETA simply kills them or advocates for killing them. They, too, are blind to the effects of depriving an animal of its most fundamental right — the right to life.

For example, compare PETA’s logic on feral cats with that of a hoarder. Hoarders, such as those who ran FLOCK in Pahrump, Nevada, believe that feral cats or any community cats are unsafe in managed colonies, so they keep them in their homes or, as in the Pahrump case, in a desolate desert enclosure. PETA likewise believes that feral cats are at too great a risk living freely in managed colonies, but rather than keeping them confined in marginal conditions, PETA advocates turning feral cats in to shelters to be killed.

What do hoarders and PETA regard as the unacceptable risks that ferals face? A few possible scenarios: They might get hit by a car, or they might get sick and lack medical attention, or some kids may throw stones at them. Hoarders and PETA believe that these risks are so great that community cats can’t be allowed to live at large. Such obsessive fear leads PETA to advocate killing to avoid risk, while the hoarder hoards.

Likewise, PETA’s rationale for their pit-bull policy parallels the thinking of hoarders on dogs in their care. Hoarders believe that no one can give their dogs the same level of love and protection that they are able to provide in their cloistered environment, so adoption to the public is out of the question.

PETA believes that all pit bulls should be killed upon entering shelters, rather than be adopted by the public. Why? Because PETA believes that there is a chance that someone with bad intentions might adopt a pit from a shelter and use him/her for fighting or tie him/her out in the yard to serve as a macho guard dog. Like the hoarder, PETA believes that their actions, in this case promoting the killing of pit bulls, is the highest form of love and protection that they can provide to an animal in the face of a future that they can’t control.

Underlying all this is an ethical system that regards suffering as the greater evil. But what constitutes suffering is a subjective assessment. Is a short stint in a less-than-adequate kennel a cause of such severe suffering that it warrants a painless death? PETA believes that suffering of almost any degree and the risk of future suffering is worse than death by a needle, and this is where PETA loses me and everyone else in animal rescue.

The main difference between PETA and a hoarder is that a hoarder, and hoarders as a group, only affect the relatively small number of animals that they can control. Hoarders have no platform and no constituency. PETA, on the other hand, has an international platform from which to promote this strange wrinkle in their organizational personality and a reputation in the mainstream as rabid protectors of animals. People who couldn’t care less about animal welfare use PETA’s position on sheltering and no-kill to support their own, long discredited catch-and-kill shelter policies.

PETA, please let go of the dock and get on-board the No More Homeless Pets boat. We’d love to have you with us.

Gregory Castle


  • Maria

    Here is a link to a group called “PETA Watch”:
    I don’t usually put credence to websites who’s sole purpose is to point out the faults of other groups, but I happened to actually read this editorial in The Detroit Daily News when it first came out. Unfortunately, the papers don’t leave their editorials on-line to be read for free for longer than 60 days, so it is no longer posted on the paper’s website. PETA Watch copied it and put it on their website, so I can actually vouch for the validity of this post.

  • Geegee

    I am just curious how many of you that believe everything on the internet said about PETA and believe in the no kill movement actually work in a shelter or muncipal animal control? I don’t like PETA either for other reasons but where in the heck are you going to put all these animals. I work in an animal control and very few folks adopt the massive numbers of pit bulls we get, yes some good people do but they are few and far between. We get over 50 a day and rescues cannot take them all and they don’t get adopted so what are we supposed to do? Do you want to take them all home? If you don’t live this life then your opinions are nothing more than interesting.

    • Tina Clark

      Geegee, animal control shelters HAVE gone No Kill. There are many people who work in these shelters – who do “live this life” – who understand that it is possible. I would suggest you do some research on exactly what the No Kill movement is about, what achieving No Kill involves. It CAN be done. It IS being done.

      • Lovefelines2003

        Well, some animal control shelters have gone no kill. Here in Los Angeles, not so much. Ok, well, not at all, unless they are private shelters. City and County shelters? No, sadly, no. In fact, we don’t even call these places shelters anymore. The word “shelter” implies safety but here in Los Angeles, the city of Angels, we just keep keep killing the homeless animals because of lack of funding, lack of space, not enough spaying/neutering/not enough effort to come up with new ideas to save these gorgeous animals…….some day we hope it will be better.

    • cheval noir

      George, the real question is, why isn’t your community heading a subsidized sterilization program for Pit Bulls? 50 a day?? It’s time to stop wasting money housing and killing so many, and start “fixing” the problem. And yes, I work for AC and we get more Pits than anything else. Our subsidized S/N has slowed the intake significantly, however.

    • 77aggie2

      Geegee: It (no-kill) can be done and is being done at forward-thinking shelters. I volunteer at a government-run shelter in Salt Lake. Here’s a story that ran recently about the incredible progress brought about by nothing more than a change of attitude.

      If you bury your head in the sand like an ostrich and bemoan the “woe is me” attitude then you are right, nothing changes. Change happens when people band together and say “Enough!”

    • 00samm

      As others have mentioned, the “no-kill” philosophy *has* been adopted by municipal shelters. However, some people seem leave the impression that making the switch to “no-kill” is as simple as just wishing for it to happen. I work in a small municipal shelter and we are very slowly working our way towards “no-kill”. It’s taking a lot of hard work, time, funding, and a little bit of luck in expanding our network of rescues. “No-kill” isn’t easy to obtain, but all shelters should be working towards it as much as they can, no matter how slow the progress is.

  • The fact that PETA is the same group that is constantly urging people to “go vegan” because killing animals for food is wrong makes the group’s stance on homeless pets the very definition of irony. Better to kill a dog because a person might, *might*, adopt it with bad intentions than to give the dog a chance a loving home is hubris at best and cruel at worst.

  • Stacey

    OMG!!!! Someone needs to educate PETA on the breeds they so easily condemn. I am a full believer that pitbulls are the most loving affectionate amazing breed of dog. Yes there are some bad ones out there but the because of poor breeding and owners not training or raising them properly. Pits dobermans rottweillers all get horrible reps bc they are the only breeds most reported for dog aggression and injuries. Little do people know there is a study out a few years ago siting that labs and goldens (“best family pets”) are just as highly responsible for injuries and deaths BUT they are seldom reported bc they are seen as above that. Anyone who is a pitbull lover/advocate should watch pitbulls and parolees on animal planet. This woman is the example as to what proper handling and knowledge can do when it comes to pitbulls. I believe if a pit is vicious and unhandleable and has been given the chance to be rehabilitated and cannot be then yes euthanasia is the only option for the safety of the public and itself. BUT do not sit here and say the pitbulls should be killed upon entry into a shelter bc then you are categorizing the breed and thats why people are so afraid of them to begin with is bc of total ignorance and lack of understanding of the breed. If i had my own house i would adopt a pitbull right away and that dog would be the most loved and cared for animal ever just like my lab mix, english mastiff and any other dog we have owned. So I plead with everyone we need to educate people on this completely misunderstood breed and start realizing that every dog has the ability to be vicious and can turn on you in a heart beat…not just these “bully breeds”.

  • Cowgirl445

    why is it okay to kill them if they’re the wrong breed but not if it’s for survival?

  • Bjd_29

    I am not on board with PETA at all in any aspect. I disagree with so much that they do. I did not realize this was there view and it makes me like them less. Sad.

  • mogsmum

    PETA is such a bunch of extremists. They are abslutely riduclous in their beliefs. They’ve got such a holier-than-thou atttitde about them. Their way is the only way possible. PETA, you could do so much more if you’d use your powers for good instead of evil. Until then, I cannot and will not support PETA.

  • Summer

    I am so on board it’s not even funny. I will never, ever go to a breeder again, and I have three (one dog and two cats) wonderful rescues that bring me so much happiness.

  • Maria

    PETA’s comment that “no good people go into a shelter LOOKING for a pit bull to adopt” confounds me. I have a college degree, a well-paying job, have been married to the same man for 24 years, volunteer, advocate and donate to several worthy causes. I PURPOSELY went into the shelter looking for FIVE pit bulls to adopt. My dogs all have their CGC’s and one (my “scariest” looking purebred) is a certified therapy dog.
    I would really like to know what PETA’s definition of good people is!

  • Maria

    PETA’s repeated comment that “no good people go into the shelter LOOKING for a pit bull to adopt”. EXCUSE ME! I have a college degree, a well-paying job, have been married to the same man for 24 years, volunteer, advocate and donate to several different causes. And I went purposely to the shelter to look for FIVE different pit bulls to adopt! Call me crazy, but I’m wondering what their idea of “good people” is!

    • Anonymous

      If only there were more people like you !!!! Problem might be solved. I just read something about how one in four children don’t get enough or proper food. It is BAD all over !!!!

    • Memphis

      I do understand where you are coming from Maria, I do Not endorse killing Pits. I do Endorse No Kill Shelters. But The Memphis Animal Shelter is a PERFECT Example. It was taken over by some VERY, VERY skilled people who are skilled at LIVING UNDER A RADAR, they are a Corporation, they are called Gangs by the media. They know how to work the system, they know HOW to and have successfully TIED the hands of the judicial system, in the name of Pitbull Abuse, they torture these creatures from the day they are born, until the day they die.and they work at the Memphis Animal Shelter. Today. We are trying, yes. But for ALL of you who don’t work in it, volunteer at it, don’t witness it. PeaceOnearth, I am glad you are a voice for children, ANIMALS need one too.

      • Dette19

        So sad to hear this… soul-less people walk among us 🙁

    • kittylove

      Maria, I applaud your volunteerism, but I’m confused by your post. PETA’s position as stated in the article is “there is a chance that someone with bad intentions might adopt a pit from a shelter.” That is vastly different than the quotation that you included. Could you please provide the source of that quotation, since it is not from the article above?

      • Ah11973

        that quote is right next to the picture of the very sad looking pitbull.

    • notafriendofmaria

      How dumb do you need to be to think this was personal to you?

      • Lulo445

        How dumb do you need to be to not understand that she is just giving an example to give a context!!! ?

    • Ari Arwen Undomiel

      Our dear Wanda was a lovely Pitbull, she was cute and sweet, and when we adopted her she was very hurt and sick, even without skin in her back. I do not know if there’s a lot of pits like Wanda, but for her noble way to be she was treated in a horrible way. The problem is not the dog, the problem is the people. And by that definition of good people, I’m really happy of been a bad person 😉

  • Bridget

    Wow! What an eloquent article. Nicely done Greg.

  • Em

    Well said. There’s always something “off” about PETA that sometimes I can’t put my finger on, but I’m glad I read this. It lets me and other no-kill advocates know what’s going on in the organizations that claim to be on their side.

    • Lovefelines2003

      What’s off about PETA is Ingrid Newkirk – Google her name and see what comes up – it’s enough to make you weep – seriously. Her blogs about slipping into her shelter and “euthanizing”animals while “comforting” them is sickening, gut wrenching, and DOES make me cry. The woman, in my book, is pure evil.

      • DP

        Totally agree! If PETA were investigated as much as they say THEY investigate, people would be appalled…

  • Dakirkland

    usually i support PETA’s beliefs in helping animals but i have never subscribed to their actions and antics as part of their movement. as far as their latest endeavours, i absolutely do not agree with them whatsoever. how can you say that an animal would be better off dead simply because they are a pit bull or because they came from a hoarding situation. this, for me, is the straw that broke the camel’s back. i’ve never given them any kind of monetary donation and now i never will. they have now also lost me as a supporter in voice as well. Joan described them as confused, which i think is a very nice way of putting it. thank you to Best Friends for being the wonderful organization that you are. don’t ever change, keep up the amazing work that you do. i will always support you as best i can.

    • Anonymous

      Sometimes hoarded pets cannot be rehabed !!! They have suffered socially and physically from the hoarding and are too far gone !!! Blame the people who did this to the animals !!! Animal cruelty is so widespread and out of control and it is a PEOPLE problem. Educate and set fines and worse for the people who do not spay or nueter and the people who abuse (the michael vicks) and the problem will get better.

      • Sandy F.

        The key word here is “sometimes.” Yes, sometimes that is true, but not every case or every animal as a policy. Even some of the Vick dogs have been rehabbed.

        • Most of the Vick dogs have been successfully rehabbed. Only one needed to be euthanized for unmanageable aggression.

      • TK

        “Sometimes hoarded pets cannot be rehabed !!!” This is true, and I think sometimes you have to look at an animal who’s suffering and be big enough to give it the painless death it deserves, not only to free it from pain, but also because the money spent on operations and prolonging its suffering could be used on other adoptable animals. But this is ALREADY what many shelter workers do. They treat animals on a case-by-case basis.

  • Tammi

    Anyone here able to show me this PETA philosophy in print? I am disturbed by this. Thanks!

    • Tammi, just google it. It has been in the news many times. In one incident they were killing dogs, putting them into large garbage bags, and then driving around at night to dispose of them in dumpsters around town. Reason? “They didn’t have enough money to feed them.”

      • Anonymous

        I hope to GOD this is not true !!! Show us facts !!!

      • Jaffa23

        I have seen undercover video footage of PETA employees needlessly killing puppies and tossing their little bodies into various garbage cans. As I mentioned in an earlier posting. PETA boycotts the annual Animal Rights conference. Probably because the animal rights organizations and attendees believe all animals have rights and should be protected – not by killing. Obviously PETA disagrees with this. So much for “ethical treatment of animals”!!!

  • Joan

    PETA’S take on this is so short-sighted. I cannot abide this death message. Clearly, they are confused. As always, I applaud Best Friends stand.

  • Critterz00

    I am with the view of Best Friends! I used to believe in PETA, but I do not agree with their “better off dead” philosophy. I believe if PETA does not change their view on this they will lose many members.

  • Sandi_l

    Many PETA employees have no idea this is where PETA stands. When they call for donations, I tell them when they stop killing those that are rescued then I will be happy to reconsider donating. The person on the other end of the phone is always shocked to hear the PETA kills those it rescues. This is truly a new level of “invisibility” if your own staff doesn’t know what its company is doing!

  • Tracy Alexa

    Makes me sick that PETA would look at this issue in this way. I have also had a love/hate relationship with them but I will not support them and will be sure to broadcast their message of death.

  • D_wend

    PETA’s attitude toward petsis one of the reasons that I refuse to support them. They simply do not understand anything about pit bulls and feral cats. PETA insulted the memory of Steve Irwin at his death accusing him of harming wildlife, but they are far worse.

  • jill

    I stopped supporting PETA when their leader made excuses for Michael Vick. I don’t have a problem with the man playing football, but I do believe any interactions he has with dogs should be closely supervised. Their advocacy of killing also makes me uncomfortable.

    • Alysonlacey

      Where can I find their statement about Michael Vick?

    • Chris

      I used to be a supporter of PETA, however, in the last few years my views (and support) have changed. I agree with you on this. ..I see in our area some of the restaurants have taken some of the “community cats” to keep down the rodent population – yes, they live outside- but I think this is one feasible solution for some of them. In our area we don’t deal with Winter weather so that is not a factor. They really don’t understand the no kill doctrine if they categorize hoarding along with it.

    • Lula

      PETA never made excuses for Vick – they hate him and believe he should never have dogs again! I don’t know where you saw this. The Humane Society, on the other hand, is saying Vick should have the chance to adopt another animal!

  • Juliosmom

    I could not have said this better myself. I, too, have struggled with Peta’s philosophy for many years and have had a love/hate relationship with them. Your blog was awesome. Crossposting 🙂 Thank you!

  • Judy

    AND THIS is exactly why I stopped supporting PETA

  • Judy

    AND THIS is exactly why I stopped supporting PETA

  • This is no surprise, i’m sad to see PETA once again showing how detached they are from what reality really is. PETA reminds me of potty training a puppy, you know they’re doing their best, but unfortunately they’re just stinking up the joint. They’re opinions reflect their organization, extreme and unbalanced. Fortunately Best Friends is there to counter balance the untamed beast. God bless their intentions, but god help the cause. No Kill Please!

  • Allminenyc

    There is some wisdom to end the pain and suffering. With so many of the homeless animals starved and frozen to death. One must pounder why we stood by holding all lives are precious and do nothing to help them end their suffering. What the society has been doing is not enough. And there is no end insight of the battle to control the over populated situation, the cruelty situation. So what PETA proposes is not cold hearted per se. It is a practical solution. Of course if we extend the same practicality on human beings in the most proverish country, we will be labeled as murderes. So I can also see why it is shocking to hear a humane organization proposing such an seemingly inhumane way …

    • Judy

      I believe PETA diminishes the value of ALL life by their philosophy…one animals life is more important than another…don’t eat an animal but kill it if they interpret it’s life as valueless

    • Anonymous

      Thank you Allminenyc and Amen !!! Calling on society to do more and put an end to the suffering IN OUR SIGHT !!!! I pray for the day that there is a waiting list to get a dog or cat due to shortage !!!!!

      • Katznranter

        You sound a bit confused also. Helping curb overpopulation is one thing; I don’t think Father wants a shortage. Man has already caused enough of that in many species… other than his own.

    • Megatron1220

      This so-called “solution” is cynically pragmatic, at best, and is most assuredly cold-hearted. Also, it utterly dismisses the incredible work lots and lots and lots of people do for free all across the country to help ease the suffering of all the animals they can. I agree that if you think life is precious and the needless, human-caused suffering of animals is wrong, you should do something about it. That is why a lot of people are trying.