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According to public records from the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, PETA killed 2,216 pets last year at its Norfolk, VA headquarters, and placed only seven in adoptive homes. From July 1998 through December 2008, a total of 21,339 dogs and cats were euthanized by PETA.

Of the 6,378 cats they took in in 2008, 3 were adopted out, 4,786 were reclaimed by their owners, 18 were transferred to other facilities or fell into a “miscellaneous” category, and 1,569 were euthanized.

Even considering that many of the animals they receive might not be adoptable and the fact the number of abandoned pets is growing, their nearly nonexistent adoption rateis stunning for an organization that has an annual budget of $32 million (most of it spent on high-profile shock-inducing media campaigns). It boggles the mind to think that PETA only bothered to find homes for three cats last year, and euthanized the rest. Hardly what one would consider to be “ethical treatment.”

Here is PETA’s Response:

Its disingenuous, to say the least, for the deceitfully-named Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF) to complain about the number of unwanted and suffering animals whom PETA has been forced to euthanize because their guardians requested it, or because no good homes exist for them.

CCF is a front group for Philip Morris, Outback Steakhouse, KFC, cattle ranchers, and other animal exploiters who kill millions of animals every year, not out of compassion, but out of greed. CCF promotes meat-eating and defends corporations that send billions of cows, chickens, pigs, and other animals to terrifying, gruesome, and painful deaths in slaughterhouses.

PETA handled far more animals than 2,124 in 2008. In fact, we took in more than 10,000 dogs and cats, spaying and neutering all of them at low to no cost. We gave them shots, fixed their wounds and treated their illnesses, and returned them to the community. Most of the animals we took in and euthanized could hardly be called “pets,” as they had spent their lives on heavy chains, for instance. They were unsocialized, never having been inside a building of any kind or known a pat on the head. Others were indeed someone’s, but they were aged, sick, injured, dying, too aggressive to place, and the like, and PETA offered them a release from suffering, with no charge to their owners or custodians.

Those figures also do not include the hundreds upon hundreds of dogs and cats whose suffering PETA works to alleviate by providing them with free food when their owners are poor, clean water buckets, sturdy dog houses, straw for winter, and more, or the hundreds of adoptable dogs and cats we will not take in but refer to walk-in animal shelters and adoption centers. Since 2001, PETA’s low- to no-cost spay-and-neuter mobile clinics, SNIP and ABC, have sterilized more than 50,000 animals, preventing hundreds of thousands of animals from being born, neglected, abandoned, abused, or euthanized when no one wanted them. We also actively decrease the number of animals who end up in animal shelters only to be euthanized for lack of good homes by using star power to promote spaying and neutering in ads across the country.

On a national level, PETA is focusing on the root of the problem through our Animal Birth Control (ABC) campaign. The ABC campaign targets breeders, pet stores, and cat- and dog-breeding mills and in an active way through protests, PSAs, celebrity support, and investigations and puts the blame for the overpopulation crisis squarely where it belongswith those who breed animals or allow their animals to breed. As long as animals are bred, homeless dogs and cats in animal shelters will die because there simply aren’t enough good homes for them all.

As long as animals are still be purposely bred and people aren’t spaying and neutering their companions, open-admission animal shelters and organizations like PETA must do society’s dirty work. Euthanasia is not a solution to overpopulation but rather a tragic necessity given the present crisis. PETA is proud to be a “shelter of last resort,” where animals who have no place to go or who are unwanted or suffering are welcomed with love and open arms.

You can read more about this in Ingrid Newkirk’s last blog.

[PHOTO CREDIT: The Sydney Morning Herald]