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Does PETA Kill Animals? 8 Things You Need to Know

Numerous claims have emerged online over the years about PETA. So, does PETA kill animals or not? Let’s explore the facts together.

Numerous claims have emerged online over the years about PETA. So, does PETA kill animals or not? Let’s explore the facts together.

For several years now, rumors had it that PETA kills animals unnecessarily. Some websites like PETA KILLS ANIMALS have even publicly called out PETA for what they term as violence against animals.

But are these rumors something to go with them? Does PETA kill animals? Well, as the saying goes, “where there is smoke, there is fire.” However, we cannot fully substantiate the rumors without hard evidence on the same.

For this reason, we have dedicated this article to figuring out the truth. Firstly, we need to find out whether the rumors and accusations against PETA hold any water.  And, if they do, find out exactly why PETA kills animals.

Does PETA Kill Animals? Hard Facts

What Is PETA?

PETA organization logo displayed on smartphone

PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) is a Virginia-based private animal shelter that advocates for animal rights globally. The organization was founded in 1980 by two animal rights activists, PETA president Ingrid Newkirk and Alex Pacheco. It is one of the largest animal protection organizations globally, with over 9 million members and even more supporters.

PETA first came to the limelight after the 1981 case of Silver Spring monkeys. They were fighting against experimenting on animals, as Edward Taub used 17 macaque monkeys for his research. The dispute, dubbed the Silver Spring monkeys case, saw Edward Taub convicted for animal cruelty, although the ruling was later overturned after an appeal.

The case also brought about the 1985 amendment to the US Animal Welfare Act. 

Some of the core issues that PETA currently deals with include:

  • Factory farming
  • Animal testing
  • Fur farming
  • Animals for entertainment

In fact, its slogan says it all: “Animals are not ours to experiment on, eat, wear, use for entertainment, or abuse in any other way.”

The organization advocates for veganism and campaigns against issues like fishing, pests killing, cockfighting, beekeeping, dogfighting, etc.  

So, back to the main question:

Does PETA Kill Animals?

The truth is that PETA does kill animals! That’s right!

This means that all the rumors that have been going around for years are no longer rumors or false accusations.

While most other shelters have a “No-Kill” policy for animals, PETA doesn’t. In fact, the organization follows totally different principles. As PETA terms it, they are more of a “last resort shelter” for animals.

However, unlike most shelters that offer selective admissions for animals, PETA doesn’t turn away any animal. They claim to offer a safe place for animals and turn away none. In most cases, however, these animals end up dead.

Why does PETA Kill Animals?

A man feeds carrots to a brown asian cow
EugeneEdge /

The “safe place,” as they call it, is the last place for the suffering animals. What PETA does, is to give a painless death to the animals. So, when a dog or a cat is left suffering just because a family doesn’t have the means to treat it, or the animal is suffering from an incurable disease, PETA gladly steps in.

The organization gives free euthanasia services for animals to help ease their pain and suffering in the long run. PETA helps to avoid long-term suffering for animals with irremediable conditions and neglect.

However, not many people see it this way. As PETA KILLS ANIMALS website puts it, “PETA doesn’t believe in owning pets.” Here, they were referring to one of Ingrid Newkirk’s famous quotes that suggest owning pets is an awful act – “Pet ownership is an absolutely abysmal situation brought about by human manipulation.”

But without leaning on one side, Ingrid has even more quotes that support animal protection. For instance, she once referred to eating meat as barbaric, primitive, and arrogant. She says that humans shouldn’t consider themselves special, saying that a rat, a dog, a pig, and a boy, are all animals

According to PETA’s shelter, they don’t just kill animals. They offer a peaceful rest for the suffering, neglected, or unadoptable animals that no one else will take in.

In a way, this makes sense. When your dog or cat pet has an incurable disease, you can opt to end their suffering by offering a painless death. This sounds like the ultimate act of care and a valid reason why PETA kills animals.

But does PETA kill animals only to offer a peaceful passing? Or are the people calling out on the organization, right? We’ll see that in a bit.

Why does PETA Kill Healthy Animals?

Dog and man holding hands

Does PETA kill healthy animals? Well, according to PETA, the organization doesn’t euthanize healthy or adoptable animals. In fact, during an interview with LA Times, Newkirk referred to PETA as the animals’ “shelter for last resort.”

And, while critics are on the organization’s neck claiming that they are killing dogs and cats in extremely large numbers, PETA has an answer for this.

Since the organization has an open-door policy, meaning that no animal is turned away, the results will always differ from those in selective-admission shelters.  PETA welcomes all suffering animals, including those that are abused, unloved, neglected, and terminally sick. Therefore, if you compare the numbers of euthanized animals in PETA with other private animal shelters, the organization seems to be overdoing things.

Remember, some of the animals that PETA receives are outrightly rejected from the other shelters. For instance, a report by shows that from 1998 to 2019, PETA had received around 49,737 animals (dogs and cats). Out of these animals, 41,539 were euthanized.

When looking at these numbers, it’s clear that PETA euthanized around 83% of the animals it received during that period. Now, this might seem quite extreme.

In another recent blog by John M. Simpson, he criticized the organization for killing 72% of cats it received in 2019 and 57% of dogs.

These two reports were derived from data from VDACS, which requires all animal shelters to report the number of animals they accept, and what they do to them.

However, PETA maintains that all these animals deserve to be euthanized.

Is PETA’s Shelter Ethical?

Girl playing with dogs in a cage

Our opinions will always differ based on what we believe in. According to PETA and its supporters, what they do is offer the best passing to suffering animals. And, they maintain that what they do to the animals, they do it honestly and with uttermost integrity.

But to the opponents of PETA’s policies and actions, killing all these animals is inhumane and utterly wrong. They feel that PETA is out there to discourage pet ownership and kill animals without a valid reason.

Criticizers usually refer to 2014’s case, where Maya (a Chihuahua) was euthanized without the family’s consent. Consequently, this led to PETA compensating the family with around $50,000 for the same. PETA also acknowledged the mistake and apologized to the family.

However, whether the organization is ethical in what it does mainly depends on whose side you are on. For instance, the organization doesn’t refute the fact that it kills animals. Therefore, before taking your animal there, you are much aware of what will happen.

In this case, they acted honestly and ethically. On the other hand, if they kill an animal without its owner’s consent, this now turns into something else. It is utterly unethical. An example of such a case is when a former PETA employee claimed that the organization euthanizes animals even before the lapse of the required time by law (5 days).

The employee claimed that there are numerous cases of PETA killing animals even within 24 hours after rescue. Maya’s case is a good example of such happenings.

How Many Animals does PETA Kill Per Day?

As per VDACS’s (Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services) reports, PETA received 2,421 pets (dogs and cats) in 2019. However, 1,578 of these animals were euthanized, a whopping 65.2%. This means that only 843 animals got new homes or shelters.

If we work with these figures, it implies that PETA killed around four animals every day in 2019. Now, this seems like quite a huge number of animals to die every day in one organization.

In contrast, most other shelters have a euthanasia rate of around 5%, with around 73% of the animals finding new homes a year.

Collectively, PETA has been responsible for over 40,000 animal deaths since 1998. These are mostly dogs and cats, although there are also other animals. In Virginia, PETA accounted for over 72% of euthanized animals in all the 45 animal shelters in 2019.

Here is a table of the number of animals that PETA has euthanized for the past decade:

YearAnimals ReceivedAnimals EuthanizedAnimals TransferredAnimals Adopted
20111,9921,911 (95.9%)3424
20121,8431,647 (89.4%)13019
20142,6312,324 (88.3%)24239
20151,9741,456 (73.8%)44660
20161,9631,411 (71.9%)47857
20172,4451,809 (70.4%)58544
20182,4701,771 ((71.7%)65835
20192,4211,578 (65.2%)80729
20202,5951,719 (66.2%)83633
Total 22,509 17,418 (77.4%) 4,527 386

With these figures, one can be quick to judge and conclude that PETA is really the worst animal shelter. And that they don’t care for the animals at all. PETA had more dogs and cats euthanized than any other private shelter.

However, sometimes these figures represent a different story. Sometimes, the reasons why PETA euthanizes animals are valid.

See Related: Are Humans Animals? Things to Know

Does PETA Help Animals?

Homeless dogs in cages

According to PETA’s website, the organization helps many animals than their criticizers care to find out. While they acknowledge that they put to an end the lives of many sick and unwanted animals, they also say that what most people imagine animal shelters should be, isn’t realistic.

For instance, even with the availability of resources (which is mostly not there), keeping suffering animals that have terminal illnesses in cages is a more inhumane act. Therefore, if the dog or cat’s problem is irremediable, giving a peaceful and painless death is their ultimate goal.

Besides this, PETA has taken a step further in animal control through spaying and neutering animals. This helps in controlling the breeding of these animals, thus reducing the number of stray cases.

Also, PETA argues that it has numerous retention cases. This is where the organization lends a helping hand to impoverished families, offering them free food, medicine, and grooming services to their pets.

Some of the diseases and conditions it help to treat include:

  • Prolapsed organs
  • Amputating broken tails
  • Drainage surgery
  • Respiratory infections
  • Skin problems, etc.

This way, they help the families to continue keeping their pets.

Here are some statistics of how PETA claims to help the animals they receive each year.

YearTransferredSelf-adoptionSpayed/neuteredEuthanizedRetentionTotal Backyard dogs helped

PETA has also distributed over 7,403 custom-built doghouses, providing shelter for numerous dogs who would still be languishing in freezing winter or the scorching summer weather.

In our quest to answer the question – why does PETA kill animals? We also found out that PETA helped over 26,000 pets in 2019 alone. This is according to their website.

See related: 10 Important Pros and Cons of Captive Breeding.

Is PETA an Enemy to the Animals?

To many people, the answer to his question is an absolute yes. And, looking at all the blogs and research being posted online about how PETA kills animals, it’s only understandable.

A website like PETA KILLS ANIMALS is dedicated to unearthing and exposing what PETA does to the animals they rescue.

According to this website, PETA is a scam and not an animal protection organization. They portray PETA as an organization that preaches water but drinks wine – advocating for veganism but killing animals in masses.

While they have a genuine reason for the concern, other research shows that not all these accusations are true. Some of the actions that PETA takes are genuine and for a good cause. Also, seeing that they are regulated by the VDACS and have to provide a detailed report about their activities, it’s hard to conclude that the organization is meant to harm animals.

And if it were, the authorities should have taken enough measures to combat these actions. For this reason, it’s upon you to go through this guide and do even more research to decide whether what the critics are saying is true.