People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) gained their early notoriety with shock and awe tactics. Their campaigns to end the use of animal pelts as articles of clothing revealed the naked bodies of many of their volunteers at public and private functions. Obviously it was an organization that you can get behind.
My first encounter with PETA was early in my profession when one our community’s pets mauled a young girl. As the decision was being made as to what to do with the dog, I got a phone call advising me that if any harm came to the dog, I would be killed. The caller identified himself as being from PETA.
I notified the local press, because I wanted to discredit the mentality of that caller so as to prevent any further foothold of people in my community to stand behind an aggressive dog over the life of a child. The newspaper called PETA for their response.
I have to admire Ingrid Newkirk for her response that PETA values all life and it is inconsistent with their mission to harm a human. She advised the reporter that her organization has many volunteers who fail to follow strictly their organizational values. In the years that followed, her words were a prophecy that I witnessed over and over with my own volunteers.
Over the years PETA has been criticized for their tactics that seemed inconsistent with their mission of doing no harm to animals. Recently, I caught a CNN article claiming that they wanted to eliminate the term “pet.”
The Oxford Dictionary already includes animal in their definition of PETA’s new word for pet: “companion”. PETA has declared the word “pet” as being derogatory. Anyone who has ever cared for a dog will know that a dog isn’t debased by the term “pet”. Cats, on the other hand, view humans as servants and being called a “pet” by our cat would be the closest thing to a kind word ever offered by a cat. Lovers often call one another by pet names.
I understand where PETA is coming from; we live in a “woke” world and words have new meanings. We have become a society in which words are used to declare our awareness of the plight of the world. But the people who chain up thier dog in their backyards are no where near being the woke people who PETA hopes that they are.