On Friday, Dec. 16, 2005, CNN's Anderson Cooper aired a segment on PeTA's policy of wantonly killing animals in their Norfolk "shelter" and the regrettable Andrew Cook/Adria Hinkle affair, which included interviews with PeTA President Ingrid Newkirk, David Martosko, Director of Research, Center for Consumer Freedom, and Patrick Proctor, DVM, Ahoskie Animal Hospital.
Readers of AC will recall that Cook and Hinkle, acting as PeTA agents, are charged with multiple counts of 2 felonies (cruelty to animals and obtaining property under false pretenses) and misdemeanors (illegal disposal of animals). They are scheduled to go to trial sometime early in 2006.
Alas, I missed viewing Mr. Cooper's report when it first aired, but here's a video of it, and here's a transcript:
COOPER: The animal rights group PETA under fire for what it is allegedly doing to abandoned pets. You're going to be surprised. That's coming up.
But, first, here's a look at what is happening at this moment.
[ ... ]
Now let's go back for more stories to Heidi in New York.
COLLINS: Hey, Anderson. Thanks.
You know, the animal rights group PETA estimates that between six to eight million unwanted pets wind up in shelters every year. Well, PETA wants them out. But you may be surprised to learn what these animal advocates consider a better option.
Take a look at what CNN's Rick Sanchez has learned. And we warn you, some of these images could be disturbing.
RICK SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They are the masters of the outrageous publicity stunt, picketing stars, protesting at zoos, storming fashion runways, PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
MARTHA STEWART, MARTHA STEWART LIVING OMNIMEDIA: That's why I agree to host this five-minute expose.
SANCHEZ: The darling of high-profile celebrities who support PETA's campaigns against the fur trade and animal cruelty.
Ouch again . . .
PATRICK PROCTOR, AHOSKIE ANIMAL HOSPITAL: They will say one thing out this side of their mouth and they will say something out this side.
SANCHEZ: Here at the Ahoskie Animal Hospital in rural North Carolina, veterinarian Patrick Proctor was used to seeing PETA representatives, especially a woman named Adria Hinkle. Hinkle would stop by regularly when Dr. Proctor had unwanted animals, ones he thought PETA might be able to find a home for.
This past summer, Hinkle and her colleague, Andrew Cook, came by in their van for this cat, named Jet (ph), And two of her kittens.
PROCTOR: As they were picking them up and taking them out of the cage, they were saying, my, what beautiful animals. We will have absolutely no trouble finding homes for these.
SANCHEZ: Proctor and his staff believed that PETA representatives would try and find the cats a home. They had no reason to believe otherwise.
In fact, suspicious workers at Rainbow Rescue, a North Carolina shelter located in Warren County, had repeatedly asked PeTA's agents what was to become of the animals they were surrendering, and repeatedly received assurances that the animals would be put up for adoption. When they finally learned otherwise from a whistleblower, they severed ties with PeTA. So I have no trouble at all believing that Dr. Proctor and his people were misled by PeTA and their agents.
But police, who had been tipped off about dead animals being dumped behind a local supermarket, were already following Hinkle and Cook, first to a county shelter, where they picked up more animals, then to this dumpster, where police say the pair dumped 18 dead animals, including Jet the cat and her two kittens.
(on camera): And, inside this van, they found another 13 dead animals, and they also found something else. They found something they refer to as a death kit, which is essentially a toolbox filled with hypodermic needles used to inject into the animals to put them to sleep. Police say that tells them there was no intention of finding homes for these animals.
(voice-over): The veterinarian and his staff say they were duped.
PROCTOR: And I'm assuming that they were put to sleep by the time they left the parking lot.
SANCHEZ: Police are also convinced Proctor was duped. That's why they're charging Hinkle and Cook with obtaining the animals under false pretenses and animal cruelty.
My understanding is that the charges of "animal cruelty" will be more difficult to prove than those of "optaining property under false pretenses."
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm just devastated. And all that I wanted to do was help the animals in the community.
SANCHEZ: Hinkle and Cook's boss, who is PETA's founder, is defending her employees. At a news conference shortly after the arrests, Ingrid Newkirk did call the dumping of bodies -- quote -- "hideous," but said nothing about the alleged deception used to obtain the animals.
Why, you might wonder, is Newkirk defending these people?
I have my suspicions: I'm betting she'd prefer to take the hit for supporting Hinkle and Cook than to take a hit were they to expose some of the skeletons in PeTA's closet. Hinkle would be the key player here, since Cook was a novice on a "ride-along" with Hinkle.
If you think that's far fetched, consider this: Newkirk had arranged to receive a package from Rodney Cornado days before he torched the lab at Michigan State University that landed him in the slammer for 4 years. A second package, mailed by Coronado after the raid and addressed to a PeTA employee, was intercepted by FedEx people, and this package contained documents stolen during the raid along with a videotape of it. (You can read all about that sordid case by reading the government's sentencing memorandum, and I encourage you to do so.)
To my unpracticed eye, that looks, smells and tastes like hush money, money designed to persuade Mr. Coronado not to spill the beans on PeTA, and if Hinkle and Cook are themselves in a position to reveal PeTA skeletons, you can bet your life that PeTA will do whatever they can to propitiate them. Or so I would argue.
INGRID NEWKIRK, PRESIDENT, PEOPLE FOR THE ETHICAL TREATMENT OF ANIMALS: What she did was -- was wrong with the bodies. But she didn't cause suffering or pain or misery or anything like that.
Of course, Ms Newkirk has, by defending PeTA's own killing of animals in general and that of Hinkle and Cook in particular, violated in spades the central premise of Animal Rights, the premise that holds that the life of an animal is as valuable as that of a human.
This human/animal moral equivlency carries with it profound implications.
To the AR True Believer, if it is immoral to do something to a human, it is equally so to do it to an animal — this is the AR "law of moral prohibition."
To the AR True Believer, if it is proper to use certain tactics to liberate humans, it is also proper to use such tactics to liberate animals — this is the AR "law of moral obligation." (Most AR people claim they try to live by the first law, but run headlong away from the second, for obvious reasons: you'd have to take up arms, and most AR people aren't interested in doing so.)
So — when Ms Newkirk is saying it's okay to kill animals if its done painlessly, she's defending "speciesism" — she's either violating the core premise of Animal Rights, or she's willing to kill humans for exactly the same reasons she and PeTA kill animals!
There is no middle ground.
SANCHEZ: To PETA's critics, this was like Christmas in July. Even before the arrests, David Martosko had started this Web site, PETAKillsAnimals.com, after obtaining records from the state of Virginia showing how many animals PETA eradicates in the state each year.
DAVID MARTOSKO, CENTER FOR CONSUMER FREEDOM: In 2003, PETA killed 85 percent of the flesh-and-blood creatures that came in. By comparison, the Norfolk SPCA, which is just down the road three miles or so, has a euthanasia rate that's less than one-third of PETA's.
SANCHEZ: Martosko freely admits his group, funded by the food and beverage industry, is at war with PETA, because of PETA's opposition to meat-eating.
(on camera): You have an axe to grind here.
MARTOSKO: Oh, absolutely.
SANCHEZ: Martosko agrees with PETA, as does the veterinarian Proctor that euthanasia is necessary. There are simply too many animals and too few owners. But:
MARTOSKO: If PETA were really serious about helping animals, it would spend some of its $29 million that it took in last year caring for these creatures, instead of killing them. And PETA has said that it could become a no-kill shelter immediately, but it would just be too darn expensive.
This is all correct . . . but what should (and has!) angered Animal Rights activists — at least those honest enough to look at what PeTA has done — is how flagrantly PeTA tramples on the central premise of the AR religion.
You see, Newkirk is deliberately conflating Animal Rights with Animal Welfare. She knows full well that a naive audience doesn't know the distinction between the two, nor that the two concepts are incompatible and irreconcilable. Euthanizing animals is highly regrettable but acceptable within the concept of Animal Welfare. It is not — repeat not — acceptable within the concept of Animal Rights, which holds that animals have the right not to be dominated, used or exploited by humans.
PeTA is violating its own standard of human/animal moral equivalency — the one they hold the food industry to, the one they hold hunters to, the one they hold scientists who experiment on animals to, the one they hold zookeepers to, the one they hold circus owners to, the one they hold rodeos to — when they kill animals for convenience . . . and it is patently obvious that PeTA does kill for convenience: as Mr. Martosko pointed out, PeTA could indeed become a no-kill shelter overnight. At least that's true according to PeTA President Newkirk.
SANCHEZ: If this case is doing anything, it is putting the spotlight on the fact that PETA does euthanize animals. We came here to the headquarters in Norfolk, Virginia, to ask them about that.
And we also wanted to ask them about which, if any, of Hinkle's Cook's alleged acts they condone. A PETA representative would only tell us by telephone only that this is not the right time for an on- camera interview.
(voice-over): Not with Hinkle's and Cook's case coming before the court, although PETA is using the case to make one thing perfectly clear: Euthanasia is a big part of what they do in North Carolina.[My emphasis . . . ed]
Heh . . . this is the old "put a frame around the crack in the wall and pretend it's art" variety of spin . . . When caught dead to rights (pun intended) depriving animals of their right to life, bat your eyes and proclaim that you've always killed them, and express your amazement that anyone would think otherwise!
NEWKIRK: We haven't gone down there to say, hello, we are an adoption agency. We are not. We are the shelter of last resort, if you want to put it that way.
SANCHEZ: Ironically, PETA has just sent Proctor a Christmas card. It shows reindeer being freed from Santa's sleigh.
(on camera): What does this tell you as a veterinarian?
PROCTOR: This tells me exactly what PETA is about. This tells me that PETA doesn't want you to have an animal.
SANCHEZ (voice-over): In fact, PETA refers to the animals not as pets, but as companions.
PROCTOR: This is a sibling of the litter of cats that...
SANCHEZ: Remember the cats who were found dead and dumped? This is Vega (ph). Look familiar? It's because he was adopted before PETA reps arrived to take away his mother and two sisters.
PROCTOR: If we knew what they were going to do with the mother, that one would have been at my house right now. My wife is still very upset about that.
SANCHEZ: Upset that an organization founded to protect animals is alleged to have deceived to kill them instead.
Any group that would misrepresent the Dalai Lama and be chastised by him for doing so would hardly shrink from deceiving a bunch of yokels, right Ms Newkirk? I mean, if you don't respect the Dalai Lama, why should you respect any of us?
What stunning contempt PeTA has for the truth, and the people they deal with . . . it really is breathtaking, isn't it?
And still, people contribute money to them!
SANCHEZ: It's important to note that we did try to contact attorneys for Cook and Hinkle, but didn't hear back from them.
PETA representatives originally had told us that they wouldn't be able to talk us until this case is concluded. But, earlier tonight, Ingrid Newkirk and president of PETA, agreed to an on-camera interview.
SANCHEZ: Do you condone, in any way, the actions of Mr. Cook and MSNBC Hinkle?
NEWKIRK: It depends what you're talking about.
SANCHEZ: Well, let's be specific, then. Let's talk about what they're alleged to have done, as far as deception is concerned, that they went to a veterinarian and said that they could find some homes for the kittens and the cat, all three of them. And the veterinarian alleges that they really had no plans the find the homes, that, in fact, they went ahead and euthanized them.
NEWKIRK: It doesn't make any sense at all.
In fact, most of this case doesn't make any sense at all. If the veterinarian couldn't find homes for a few kittens and a cat, which is surprising, if they have clients coming in, then that's why they called us, because they know we don't have a magic wand either.
Of course, PeTA's agents, Hinkle and Cook, evidently led Dr. Proctor to think that PeTA does have a magic wand!
See . . . I think that's the deception part . . .
SANCHEZ: But -- but he -- but -- but...
Mr. Sanchez is totally at a loss for words . . . there is a kind of dark humor in this, isn't there?
NEWKIRK: That is, in fact, Rick -- that is, in fact, Rick -- that is the veterinarian, the same veterinarian who we pay to euthanize at one of these shacks, which is called a pound, down there, where they used to shove the animals into a cinder block box.
Newkirk tries to turn the tables by conflating what is regrettable but permissible for a vet to do within the moral framework of Animal Welfare, with what is an impermissible violation of the core premise of Animal Rights.
It's as if the Pope were to defend himself from violating his vows of celibacy on the grounds that married folks have sex all the time!
Euthanizing animals is permissible within the context of Animal Welfare; but killing is not permissible within the context of Animal Rights, unless you are willing to kill humans for the same reasons you are killing animals. To the AR person, the life of a human and that of an animal are of equal moral worth.
It's just that simple: President Newkirk is counting on the viewers not knowing the difference between AR and AW. She is banking on the audience mistaking Animal Rights for being Animal Welfare on steroids. (For the difference between the two, read this which will help you understand this and this.)
SANCHEZ: You're absolutely right. In fact, he told us that he works for you and -- by euthanizing many of those animals.
But he says that, in this particular case -- and we talked to two other witnesses who say they heard Ms. Hinkle say, we are going to try and get these pets a -- a home, these animals a home.
Is -- is -- is that deceptive enough for you to want to act on?
NEWKIRK: It would be if that's what happened.
SANCHEZ: And, if so, why are you standing by her?
NEWKIRK: How many times do I beat my wife?
It would be deceptive, if that's what she said. I do not believe for a minute that's what she said, because that's not what we are about. If you go to our Web site, and you watch what we're doing, and you look at the man -- the number of animals we take in, the bedraggled, broken bodies that we take in, and the ones no one can find homes for, we're not out there looking for animals you could place.
We're getting calls from the public. And that vet called us -- or that vet's assistant called us. He wasn't even present, so I'm not sure how he knows what was said.
Heh . . . President Newkirk is clearly desperate: i) Newkirk wasn't asked a compound question ("How many times do I beat my wife?") but an hypothetical one; ii) Hinkle didn't say it, because that's not what we said on our website; iii) we're only taking animals that are not adoptable . . . (so that we can kill them, left unsaid . . .); iv) the vet can't be sure what was said because he wasn't a party to one telephone conversation . . ..
My personal favorite is the bit about the bedraggled and broken animals. Aren't these precisely the ones that most deserve the protection of Animal Rights activists? They are bedraggled and broken through no fault of their own, after all, and is there a more needy group of animals than these?
And that's especially true if the bedraggled-ness and the broken-ness are due to human abuse or neglect.
What a curious view of Animal Rights morality President Newkirk has if animals lose their rights simply because they are bedraggled and broken, especially if their woeful condition is due to human abuse or neglect!
So much for protecting the innocent, those without voices . . .
SANCHEZ: So, you're saying that they're not necessarily telling the truth.
Let's move to another issue. Let's talk...
NEWKIRK: I don't believe they are.
And I will tell you this. The vets down there need to stop taking in money, and stop having us pay them for everything, and start spaying and neutering at a reduced fee, because those counties desperately need it.
Well! President Newkirk possesses nothing if not the largest set of cajones in the nation. Attacking the people on the front line who have committed themselves to what she professes to want, has the money to obtain, but chooses not to do herself.
Is that to be believed!
Here she presides over an empire that sucked in $29 million in 2004 alone, and she's begrudging these dedicated people from saving animals while PeTA sent money to the likes of Rodney Coronado and his father, and the terrorist ELF, and spends money like drunken sailors on their massive propaganda efforts — like the PeTA2 website for indoctrinating children and traveling road shows like likening the Holocaust to farming animals and owing animals to owning human slaves!
SANCHEZ: Do you think people would be surprised to know just how many animals your organization euthanizes?
NEWKIRK: Yes. I absolutely do, even though we have been trying to tell this story for years, because, unless people know, then they're not going to start spaying and neutering.
They're going to keep going to the pet shops and to the breeders. And that is death for the animals who are sitting in the pounds and shelters, even the good ones, not these shack cities down in North Carolina, but even the good ones.
Yhup . . . them thar shack cities down thar in North Carolina . . . with all them thar yokels in 'em. Ah mean, even if them good shelters cain't make a go of't, whatcha 'spect ah them North Carolina folks . . .
What stunning contempt Newkirk has for the people of North Carolina, especially the ones who are doing everything in their power to care for the animals they love so much!
It takes my breath away! And how big are President Newkirk's cajones?
Animals are dying for homes. And, yes, if you know there's something wrong when an organization who won't kill an animal for a sandwich or for a bit of a fur coat is actually having to hold them in their arms and give them an exit from a world that doesn't want them, that means there's a problem. And we need everybody to pitch in and...
Don't forget the human/animal moral equivalency that is the centerpiece of AR ideology.
Ms Newkirk is either being a speciesist — violating the right to life of a dog because it is not a human, or she is advocating killing humans for the same reasons she advocates killing animals.
Ms Newkirk is counting on the viewers not knowing what distinguishes Animal Rights — her and PeTA's raison d'être — from Animal Welfare.
When you see how often she plays this game, you can't continue to believe that her conflation of AR and AW is an oversight. It is deliberate.
SANCHEZ: But let's be fair.
NEWKIRK: ... spay and neuter.
SANCHEZ: Let's be fair and do a comparison, though. SPCA, for example, has about a half the euthanasia rate that you have.
NEWKIRK: Which SPCA?
SANCHEZ: According to officials in Virginia, they say -- they say that you euthanized 86 percent in 19 -- in 2003, 86 percent of the animals that you took in for adoption.
NEWKIRK: Yes, Rich (sic). Yes. Yes.
You're talking about the Norfolk SPCA, I believe, which is a closed-door shelter. They do not take in very many animals. They only take in those that they think they can place. And some of those animals have been there circling in their cages for years. That is no comparison.
We are -- we very much support the open-admission shelters, the ones who don't close their hearts and their doors. And we are not a shelter for adoption. We're a shelter of last resort, which means that, if the animal is aggressive, has been on a chain his whole life, not the kind of animal anyone wants, who's cute and fluffy and housebroken...
SANCHEZ: Well, just for the record...
NEWKIRK: ... or is aged or -- or is aged or...
SANCHEZ: Just -- just...
NEWKIRK: ... or is aged or injured -- excuse me -- we are the shelter of last resort.
So, please, I mean, you know, I adore animals with all my heart and soul. I have worked my whole life for them. So, if I'm holding one in my harm arms and putting them to sleep, you can bet your boot something's very wrong with that poor dog or that cat.
Translation: Animals lose their rights if old or if abused by people, or if for other reasons are not adoptable!
Again I remind you . . . Ms Newkirk is either violating the core premise of Animal Rights, or she would kill humans for the same reasons her PeTA kills animals.
There is no middle ground.
SANCHEZ: Ingrid Newkirk, we thank you tonight for going on the record. We appreciate it.
NEWKIRK: Thank you.
I'll have more to say about this fiasco, which continues to develop, presently . . . oh yes . . .
UPDATE: Reader Lisa P. writes:
HELLO!!! Why does a VETERINARIAN need to turn animals over to PETA thugs for euthanizing - he can do it himself!!! So her assertion makes no sense (of course I am preaching to the choir). 'nuff said. I hope the prosecution uses that.
Heh. Why indeed . . . ? And who knows . . . perhaps the prosecution will use it?