Ryan Chartrand

I have a confession to make (don’t worry, I am registered to vote): I am a former PETA member.

In my later years of high school, I was an avid supporter of PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals); I even sported the “Cut class, not frogs” pin on my backpack. Now, as an older and wiser person, I want to tell you what made me convert.

PETA is a prominent organization in today’s society, and being an animal lover, I thought the best way for me to make a positive impact would be to join it and help advance animal rights. What I didn’t know is that PETA is a radical and propagandist organization responsible for killing millions of animals and destroying the animal rights movement.

The reason PETA has grown to be such a successful and infamous organization since its founding 28 years ago is the high emotional appeal of its cause. Most people want to help animals; PETA wants to promote its radical agenda.

Just a few weeks ago, PETA’s Senior Vice President Dan Matthews spoke at Cal Poly’s Change the Status Quo conference. Among other claims, he stated he “consider(s) all meat-eating cannibalism.” Cannibalism is eating your own kind, not meat in general.

This was not the first time PETA has made outlandish claims or stretched the truth.

In 2006, of the 3,061 animals that PETA had in their care, only 12 were adopted, and 46 were transferred to other facilities while 2,981 were euthanized. This information was reported from PETA’s headquarters directly to the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Instead of spending part of the $31 million it takes in annually to care for animals acquired from other shelters (or relocating owners), they kill them.

PETA is not an animal welfare organization; in fact it spends less than 1 percent of its budget on programs that actually benefit and save animals. For an organization that preaches “animals are not ours to kill” I find this highly hypocritical.

According to The New Yorker, Ingrid Newkirk, a co-founder of PETA and current president, was the director of a Washington, D.C. shelter before she started PETA. She would come to work hours early to kill the animals because she felt they were being abused by employees. If she was so concerned about the animals and the way they were treated by employees, as the director of the shelter she had the power to change that; fire the employees, don’t kill the animals.

Besides killing helpless animals, PETA indoctrinates children. It is proud of the fact that it can reach 2 million children a year with its youth campaign (actually 2.3 million, according to its 2003 annual review). It operates a Web site, petakids.org which houses games, videos and a variety of other media. It teaches kids how drinking milk and eating meat are terrible options.

The most despicable part of this campaign is children are so young and their minds are easily influenced, they accept these claims as the whole truth. They think of it as: sure I want to help animals, therefore I will stop drinking milk. With most American children not getting adequate amounts of calcium as is, I think it is absurd and irresponsible for PETA to target children with this message.

Additionally, PETA ran a few other questionable campaigns, such as the “I’d rather go naked than wear fur,” which featured supermodels posing naked. This takes the focus off animals altogether and instead objectifies women’s bodies.

In 2005, it displayed its “Are animals the new slaves?” exhibit in Connecticut. The exhibit displayed images of lynched black men next to posters of cattle hanging in a slaughterhouse. In 2003, it had a “Holocaust on your plate” exhibit comparing the slaughter of farm animals to the murders of millions of Jews during the Holocaust. Both of these campaigns received massive amounts of criticism.

It is incomprehensible how the management allowed these exhibits to be put on display; it clearly shows a lack of respect for people and the hardships and atrocities they have endured.

Animals are mistreated in some shelters and farms, but instead of promoting bizarre exhibits and forbidding the consumption of meat, PETA should focus on spaying and neutering stray animals, housing them in shelters so they can be adopted, and lobbying for better enforcement of humane treatment laws.

You as a consumer have power as well. Instead of joining PETA, volunteer at the local animal shelter, adopt a pet instead of buying a new puppy from a pet store, and research where your food comes from. We can help animals, and not just through these radical and distressing tactics.

Jacki DeMarchi is an animal science junior, a member of the Cal Poly College Republicans and a Mustang Daily conservative columnist.

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