PGTW: A Reaction to my PETA Column

POP GOES THE WORLD By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today, 25 April 2013, Thursday

A Reaction to my PETA Column

I received an email yesterday in reaction my April 11 column, where I quoted from an article by Nathan Winograd in Huffington Post about the PETA U.S. (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) policy on animal euthanasia.

Here’s the email in full:

“Hi Jenny, please find below an op-ed written by PETA vice-president Jason Baker about the work of PETA U.S. to help animals in need.

“All the best,

“Ashley Fruno (, PETA Asia.”

“No animal turned away: PETA U.S.’ work to help homeless cats and dogs

“By Jason Baker

“It’s unfortunate that columnist Jenny Ortuoste didn’t bother to contact PETA before writing her recent piece. Had she done so, she might understand the magnitude of the animal homelessness crisis and why PETA U.S. performs the heartbreaking but vital work of taking in unadoptable animals and euthanizing suffering ones and those for whom a bright future does not exist.

“Every year in the United States, where PETA U.S. is headquartered, up to 8 million unwanted cats and dogs end up in pounds and animal shelters. Only about half of these animals find homes each year. The others must be euthanized because people choose to buy animals from breeders and pet shops instead of adopting from shelters, and because the deluge of homeless animals outnumbers the amount of good homes that are available for them. Animal homelessness statistics for the Philippines are also appalling.

“PETA U.S. does not operate what one calls a “traditional” shelter, but they shelter many animals every year, when they have been let down by their humans and even other shelters, including ones calling themselves “no-kill.” PETA U.S. helps the animals no one else will: cats and dogs who are so likely to attack that they cannot safely be placed, feral animals, animals who are suffering from devastating diseases and grapefruit-sized tumors and those who have been discarded and are unadoptable for other reasons.

“For these animals, euthanasia is a dignified, merciful release from suffering. PETA U.S. is proud to provide this kindness, and has written about it on their website and in their newsletters, as well as blogged about their caseworkers’ heartbreaking work dozens of times over the years.

“Many of the animals PETA U.S. receives are sent to them or have been turned away by “no-kill” shelters who rejected them because the animals are “undesirable” or because the shelter’s cages are full. PETA U.S. takes these animals in, cares for them and pays their veterinary or euthanasia costs. Virginia officials acknowledged this to USA Today, saying “PETA will basically take anything that comes through the door, and other shelters won’t do that.”

“Cute, young, healthy and adoptable animals aren’t included in the statistics anti-PETA campaigners cite because PETA U.S. delivers these animals to local high-traffic open-admission shelters, where they will have the best chance of being adopted by a loving family.

“Another number that isn’t mentioned is the more than 10,000 dogs and cats PETA U.S. spayed and neutered at little or no cost to their guardians in the last year alone, or the nearly 90,000 animals they’ve sterilized since 2001—preventing thousands upon thousands of animals from being born only to end up homeless, neglected, abused or euthanized.

“PETA U.S. also works daily to keep animals in their homes by providing counseling, free veterinary care, bedding, food and more to enable low-income families to keep and properly care for their animals. Even though PETA U.S. provides these vital services for tens of thousands of animals every year, the state of Virginia only counts the animals who are signed over their custody—often, by heartbroken people who ask PETA U.S. to euthanize their elderly and suffering animals because they can’t afford to pay a veterinarian to do it.

“Some lucky animals have also found excellent homes thanks to PETA U.S., but homes where animals are truly treated as members of the family—not merely fed and ignored—are not easy to find. Unlike Mali the elephant, for whom a wonderful sanctuary is ready and waiting, many homeless dogs and cats in the U.S. simply have nowhere to go.

“The only way to change that is by stopping animal overpopulation—and the homelessness and euthanasia that result from it—at its source, by spaying and neutering. PETA invites everyone to join in and do something to help. Each of us can save lives by always having our animals spayed and neutered, adopting from shelters instead of buying animals from breeders or pet stores and urging everyone we know to do so, too. Together, we can reach the day when every cat and dog has a loving home.”

All my adult life, I’ve sheltered stray cats we find shivering on the street or dumped in garbage bins. The most we’ve had at one time is twelve; at the moment we have seven (one adopted from a friend who could not keep it for health reasons).

We give all of them names, enjoy their different personalities, and delight in their presence in our lives. My daughters call our home “the cat ranch” and “the cattery.” So I personally do not support euthanasia for my own pets save in the case of terminal illness, where a gentle death would be a relief from pain.

While PETA and I might have different opinions on that one point, I agree with and support them on spaying and neutering, sheltering, and other initiatives to save animals, and on the most important thing – that we all need to treat with responsibility and compassion the animals with which we share the Earth. ***

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