NORFOLK, Va. – Two North Carolina counties have stopped turning over shelter animals to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (search), saying they were surprised the group euthanized cats and dogs instead of trying to find them homes.
The Norfolk-based animal-rights group said it tried to have some of the animals adopted, but the condition of some strays and the availability of homes made it impossible.
The Bertie County Board of Commissioners (search) voted unanimously Monday to cut all ties to PETA, despite a written apology from its president. County Manager Zee Lamb said he believed euthanasia would be only a last resort for cats and dogs that were not adoptable.
Northampton County health director Sue Gay said she assumed the same. The counties learned that most animals instead had been euthanized after two PETA workers were arrested and charged with dumping dead animals in a shopping center's garbage bins.
Northampton County decided last week to stop working with PETA until the criminal cases against the two are resolved.
Since 2001, PETA has taken animals from shelters in Bertie, Hertford and Northampton counties and the town of Windsor.
Documents filed with the state of Virginia showed that PETA euthanized about 6,100 domestic animals from 2001-03. Daphna Nachminovitch (search), director of PETA's domestic animal and wildlife department, said she didn't know how many were from North Carolina.
"Did we euthanize some animals who could have been adopted? Maybe," Nachminovitch said. "The point is that good homes are few and far between. Our aim here was to stop them from dying an agonizing death."
PETA said it offered to take stray animals and euthanize them by fast-acting injection because it considers that more humane than gassing or shooting them.
The organization has stayed in touch with Bertie and Northampton officials in hopes of mending the relationships, Nachminovitch said.
The two workers arrested last week, Adria Joy Hinkle, 27, of Norfolk, Va., and Andrew Benjamin Cook, 24, of Virginia Beach, Va., have a court hearing July 19 on charges of animal cruelty, disposal of dead animals and trespassing.