When I was in high school, I wanted to make a donation to an animal welfare organization with a small percentage of my babysitting money. I narrowed my options down to PETA and the World Wildlife Fund. I’ve always been fascinated by primates – hence my anthropology degree – so I ended up adopting a chimp through WWF.
Because now that I know more about PETA and pit bulls, I would never want one cent of my money going to this organization.
“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,” wrote Gregory Castle, CEO of Best Friends.
Sounds extreme, right?
Can an organization with a fervent – and, at times, zealous – mission to protect the rights of animals actually advocate for the destruction of pit bulls? Can they truly believe that it’s better to kill all pit bulls because they might have a bad outcome than to work to end the abuse these dogs suffer at the hands of people?
PETA advocates for breed bans
“Pit bulls are the most abused breed of dog, and it is the relentless abuse of these dogs at the hands of cruel people that motivates our efforts to stop people from bringing more pit bulls into the world to be hurt and exploited.” – from the PETA website.
So they’re better off dead.
That’s PETA’s stance, anyway.
In a blog post explaining why they advocate for breed bans, they use graphic images of severely abused pit bulls. The message is clear: Wouldn’t these dogs be better off if they had never been born? In fact, that’s almost word-for-word the caption of a photograph on their official pit bull statement, “If only no one had been allowed to breed these dogs’ parents.”
Recently, PETA supported the Maryland pit bull legislation that forced owners to choose between losing their homes or losing their animals. Teresa Chagrin for PETA wrote in an op-ed, “Bans on breeding or acquiring new pit bulls (provided that such laws grandfather-in registered, well-cared for, spayed and neutered dogs) protect pit bulls from horrendous suffering by helping to prevent them from ending up in the hands of cruel people.”
Animal welfare advocates around the globe work tirelessly to stop illogical, unfounded breed bans. Innocent dogs die because of these laws.
Volunteers battle ingrained notions of what a pit bull is, combat media biases, and toil on the ground to stop the abuse of these dogs. Progress has been made. It certainly hasn’t been easy. But it’s been progress nonetheless. Just look at Ohio.
Yet, here is the largest animal rights organization in the world working to dismantle that progress.
An end to pit bull adoptions
Beyond breed bans, PETA wants to take the eradication of pit bulls one step further. They want to prevent pit bulls and pit bull type dogs from being adopted out of shelters.
“Are some pit bulls loving companions? Absolutely! But PETA must consider that people who have good intentions rarely come to a shelter to adopt pit bulls; almost without exception, those who want pit bulls are attracted to the “macho” image of the breed as a living weapon and seek to play up this image by putting the animals in heavy chains, taunting them into aggression, and leaving them outside in all weather extremes in order to “toughen” them. There is no denying that pit bulls are at a higher risk of suffering a horrible fate.” – from a letter from PETA reposted on Stubby Dog (emphasis added by me)
Most people would assume that an animal rights organization like PETA would take the opposite position. In fact, until I stumbled across an aside, a throw-away sentence in another article that ignited me to research this, I had no idea – couldn’t imagine – that this would be PETA’s position on pit bulls. It’s illogical. It’s inhumane. It’s just plain nuts.
They’re essentially saying that because a pit bull could suffer, we should get rid of all pit bulls.
Shouldn’t they be using their power to stop the abuse of pit bulls in the first place? To help these dogs find loving homes? To rehabilitate dogs who deserve a second chance? To encourage people to look at pit bulls for what they really are: dogs?
PETA is a global force. I’m not denying the achievements they’ve made in areas like animal testing. However, it’s critical as animal welfare advocates that we understand their stance on pit bulls. We all have precious limited resources – time and money – to donate to organizations we care about.
How can an organization that espouses animal rights condone killing pit bulls, an innocent animal?
I don’t have an answer. I truly don’t. I can’t even wrap my mind around it, to be perfectly honest. But I think we need to be aware, and I think we need to have the conversation.
Editor’s Note: I’ve been researching this for a couple weeks now, and that included reading the comment threads that followed various articles and posts. A common theme from PETA supporters was a demand for attribution of quotes, which is why I’ve footnoted this entire piece. You can follow the links to the original sources. None are made up. None are taken out of context. They’re all straight from the mouth of PETA. Hyperlinked articles aren’t directly tied to the “PETA and Pit Bulls” thesis but are asides worth reading.