Wednesday, January 31, 2007

PETA could do better

PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) is under scrutiny after two employees were caught dumping animal carcasses in a supermarket dumpster in South Carolina. This caught many people by surprise, including many donors.
To be fair, PETA's explanation was that these animals were being treated inhumanly at a local animal shelter, and that there had been reports that this animal shelter was using cruel methods to euthanize unadoptable and unadopted animals, and that PETA had stepped in to administer humane euthanization to the unwanted pets. They explained that they do not have enough resources to prevent having to euthanize many animals, and that there are far too many abandoned animals nationwide for PETA to take care of or protect.
One could conceivably argue that this situation is the result of the virtual abandonment of the organization's animal rescue mission, and the allocation of funds to support radical activities and the anti-carnivore movement. PETA has, in recent years, become a social/political activist organization rather than an animal rescue operation. However, many long-time and large scale donors to PETA support the organization with the understanding that it is an animal rescue operation.
The real problem is that the scale on which PETA is trying to operate its animal rescue operations is much too large. PETA is a global organization, with few supported local community operations. One need only to look at the federal government’s social welfare programs to see how inefficient this type of organization can be. Many non-profit organizations, such as Goodwill and the Salvation Army, realized long ago that it is far more efficient to operate local community organizations, rather than trying to take care of everything on a national level.

In Colorado Springs, for instance, we have an excellent animal rescue organization called Dream Power, which avoids by every possible means the need to euthanize animals. Usually, the only time an animal is euthanized by Dream Power is when it has become too ill to treat. Dream Power gets most of its funding from local donors, and is supported by several local vetenary clinics that donate time and services for spaying and neutering, medications, and vaccinations. PETA would do better to allocate some of their funding to local organizations such as Dream Power, rather than trying to keep up with the cost of the attorneys they need to hire as a result of some of their radical activities.
While on the subject of animal rescue, my favorite singer, Emmylou Harris, has a very worthy organization called Bonaparte's Retreat which coordinates animal adoption efforts nationwide. This is Emmylou's personal project, and should be checked out.

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