US

PETA shelter was a 'slaughterhouse,' group claims

Kittens at a California animal shelter.

Kittens at a California animal shelter.  (AP)

A national consumer non-profit group is assailing People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, for killing more than 1,000 dogs and cats last year at its headquarters in Norfolk, Va.

In a press release, the Center for Consumer Freedom calls PETA’s shelter at its Virginia location a “slaughterhouse” where it “has once again massacred scores of potentially adoptable pets.”

PETA, the group said, is hypocritical.

PETA for years has been a target of criticism for its high rate – more than 80 percent over the years – of euthanasia at the shelter, the only one it runs, according to the Religion News Service.

PETA officials have said that animals suffer far worse fates than euthanasia, such as illness, pain, and not being adoptable.

Will Coggin, director of research for the Center for Consumer Freedom, told Fox News that his organization wants the public to know that PETA is two-faced when it presents itself as a defender of animals.

“PETA’s disregard for the lives of animals is disgraceful,” Coggin said.

He said the animal-rights group routinely kills over a thousand pets each year.

“It would be better if PETA never even touched the animals, that way they might actually have a chance at life,” he said. “PETA holds itself out as a savior, but it is really just a Grim Reaper.”

PETA euthanized 1,411 cats and dogs last year, according to the consumer group, which said that while Virginia shelters killed an average of 16.9 percent of the animals in their care, PETA killed nearly 72 percent.

Virginia lawmakers were concerned about PETA’s extraordinarily high rate of euthanasia and even set out to redefine the term animal shelter to refer to a place whose primary mission is to find a permanent home for pets.

“It’s sanctimonious to say they are lovers of animals,” Virginia State Sen. William M. Stanley Jr. said to Religious New Service in 2015. “It’s a way station of death, and it’s a shame.”

In response to a request for comment, PETA sent Fox News an email saying that the euthanasia should be in context of the vast ways the organization helps animals.

It did not deny killing more than 1,400, noting that “PETA operates a rescue team—which is on call 24/7 to offer relief to abused and suffering animals—as well as a single ‘shelter of last resort’ that takes in mostly aggressive, sick, elderly, injured, feral, and otherwise unadoptable animals, many of whom have been turned away by shelters with limited-admission policies.”

The PETA email said that the consumer group “altogether fails to include or explain our organization's lifesaving work in our community or the condition of the sick and dying animals PETA takes in.”

PETA often maintains that its kill rate is higher because it takes animals that other shelters won’t accept.

PETA’s website said: “So-called ‘no-kill’ or ‘turn-away’ shelters, which are supported by supposed animal rights activist Nathan Winograd, have the luxury of not euthanizing animals because they turn away needy ones whom they deem unadoptable.”

“To be able to offer refuge to every animal in need, open-admission shelters must euthanize unadopted and unadoptable animals. The alternative—turning them away—is cruel and leaves the animals in grave danger.”

Elizabeth Llorente is Senior Reporter for FoxNews.com, and can be reached at Elizabeth.Llorente@Foxnews.com. Follow her on Twitter @Liz_Llorente.