People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, the often-controversial animal rights group known for staging provocative protests involving human props, is known for taking a hard stance on the consumption of meat, leather, fur, and other products created using animals. But according to records submitted yesterday to the government of Virginia, where PETA's headquarters are located, the group's animal shelter in Norfolk euthanized 1,675 animals — including 1,045 cats and 602 dogs — that it had deemed "aggressive, on death's door, or somehow unadoptable" and thus "unadoptable."
Besides raising the ire of PETA's many critics (one of whom called the group "a slaughterhouse" for animals) the fact that the group euthanizes so many animals raises a vexing question — is euthanasia ethical? — that PETA, in its advocate role, has been hesitant to address in public. After all, they're mostly known for protesting meat factories and fur makers, not veterinary clinics where pets are often put down due to old age. That's not to say PETA hasn't addressed the question of euthanasia before: the frequently-asked-question section of its website addresses the group's history of euthanizing animals. Here's one pertinent entry:
What is PETA’s position on euthanasia?
Every day in the United States, tens of thousands of puppies and kittens are born. Compare this to the nearly 11,000 human births each day, and it’s clear that there can never be enough homes for all these animals. Shelters are stuck with the heartrending job of dealing with animals nobody wants. Those who refuse to spay and neuter their animals, who abandon animals when they grow tired of them, and who patronize pet shops instead of adopting stray or shelter animals make euthanasia a tragic necessity.