PETA’s definition of abuse goes too far

After a long tiresome day, I don’t always get home in the best of moods. That changes the moment I walk in my front door, though, as I see my cat, Audrey, and my dog, Finn. Suddenly the stress of my day leaves my mind. I am an animal lover, but more specifically, I am a dog and cat lover. I’m a pet lover.

Upon hearing that the Ringling Bros. circus is planning to shut down after 146 years of business, my initial thought was the circus industry is outdated and younger generations no longer have the desire to attend this “old-fashioned” form of entertainment.

While this was a contributing factor to the organization’s demise, the biggest factor was the constant battle with animal rights groups, specifically PETA. According to ABC News, PETA was one of the circus’ “biggest opponents” and because of the constant battles with PETA and other animal rights organizations, the circus decided to stop the use of elephants in their performances. This ultimately led to a severe drop in ticket sales.

I believe that the public has a misconception of PETA’s core values. Yes, people are against animal abuse, but what they don’t understand is that PETA considers domesticating animals abuse. I think these misconceptions of the circus “abusing” animals has led to its closure.

Ringling Bros. had a long history of fighting off animal abuse accusations.

As of 2012, Feld Entertainment Inc., the parent company of Ringling Bros., had been engaged in a 12-year lawsuit with numerous animal rights activist groups such as ASPCA and the Humane Society of the United States, which had claimed animal abuse at the hands of the circus.

According to U.S. News, as well as both the Feld Company and ASPCA websites, the U.S. District Court ruled in favor of Feld Entertainment, calling the case “frivolous,” “vexatious,” “groundless and unreasonable from its inception.”

After this lawsuit ended, PETA continued to make claims of animal abuse and began referring to Ringling Bros. as “The cruelest show on Earth,” playing on the circus’ famous moniker, “The Greatest Show on Earth.” However, Feld Entertainment has never lost a lawsuit in which it was accused of abuse.

PETA is notorious for never shying away from an opportunity to cause a scene or shock an audience, and there seems to be a disconnect between what the organization preaches and what it practices. PETA has been protesting against the circus’ use of animals in their shows for 36 years, according to a statement from Ingrid Newkirk, the organization’s president. However, PETA has been under numerous investigations of animal abuse.

According to The Washington Post, Virginia PETA shelters took in a total of 3,017 animals in 2014 and euthanized or “mercy killed” 2,455 of them, which is about 81 percent. PETA defends itself, saying its kill rate is high because it takes in animals too sick to live or have too many preexisting issues to be adopted. Others won’t.

This is hard for me to believe, especially when PETA states on its own website that, “We believe that it would have been in the animals’ best interests if the institution of ‘pet keeping’ – i.e., breeding animals to be kept and regarded as pets – never existed.”

PETA does not believe that Audrey and Finn should live with me. PETA continues to say that pet keeping is a, “selfish desire to possess animals and receive love from” them and that it ”causes immeasurable suffering.”

PETA has a list on its website of practices it opposes, yet it doesn’t offer any solutions. For example, PETA is opposed to zoos and animal parks, and it’s also against reintroduction programs.

PETA does not care about finding good homes for animals and their “ethical treatment.” PETA cares about attacking organizations and people who do not share its belief system regardless of how the animals involved are affected, using false statements as the basis for its fundraising.

Kenneth Feld, CEO of Feld Entertainment, said it best when he announced the circus’ closing.

“This is not a win for animal rights activists, this is not a win for anyone,” he said, according to ABC News.

Keaghlan Brady is a Public Relations major from Sparta, N.J. She can be reached at

Author: Keaghlan Brady

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  1. PETA advocates animal adoption and treating our animals with love and respect. Their site has a whole section devoted to helping people care for and strengthen their bonds with their cats and dogs: What they are opposed to is breeding more animals at a time when millions of animals are euthanized in shelters across the country every year due to overpopulation and a shortage of good homes. That’s something we all should agree on.

    PETA is a shelter of last resort for animals who need euthanasia to end their suffering. This includes dogs who are aggressive and unadoptable because they have been kept chained their entire lives; feral cats dying of contagious diseases; animals who are wracked with cancer; elderly animals who have no quality of life and whose desperate guardians brought them to PETA because they can’t afford to pay a vet to euthanize them; and the list goes on. Euthanasia is a kindness for animals who have no quality of life and nowhere else to turn. PETA refers healthy, adoptable animals to local open-door shelters and has also found excellent, lifelong homes for many animals themselves. Here are some of them (and some who are still looking for homes:

    Last year alone, PETA spayed and neutered more than 15,000 dogs and cats at little to no cost to their guardians, preventing countless animals from being born only to end up homeless. They also delivered straw-filled doghouses to help chained dogs survive the elements; provide free veterinary care for animals who’d otherwise be left to suffer from injuries and diseases; educate the public about the need to spay, neuter and adopt through ads and PSAs, and more.
    Please watch this short video to see some of the animals PETA has helped in its community:

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    • Lucy P is a rabid PETAphile.. do not listen to her death is her game

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    • Wow, PeTA-brainwashed troll much? PeTA is anti-animnal-use, period. Haven’t you read what Ingrid Newkirk has said in the past about animal ownership and use? I’d suggest you research. PeTA is a *sociopathic* organization, anti-societal and against the human/animal bond.

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    • PETA does NOT want animals “cared for” by humans. If you believe that, then please explain why Ingrid Newkirk said THIS:

      “I don’t use the word ‘pet.’ I think it’s speciesist language. I prefer ‘companion animal.’ For one thing, we would no longer allow breeding. People could not create different breeds. There would be no pet shops. If people had companion animals in their homes, those animals would have to be refugees from the animal shelters and the streets. You would have a protective relationship with them just as you would with an orphaned child. But as the surplus of cats and dogs (artificially engineered by centuries of forced breeding) declined, eventually companion animals would be phased out, and we would return to a more symbiotic relationship – enjoyment at a distance. ” You aren’t “caring for animals” by “enjoying them at a distance”, you are leaving them to fend for themselves and in many cases…watching them starve or be eaten by predators.

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  2. Funny, but no one has ever been able to explain to me the difference between imprisoning humans in penitentiaries and “imprisoning” animals in zoos and circuses in barred cages, crates, coops, pens and/or restricted areas of varying dimensions tethered by ropes, chains and/or shackles of various types for “entertainment” purposes. We shelter, feed and clothe the humans — and, for the most part, provide them exercise and human interaction — but we don’t allow them to depart their confines if or when they please. Did I mention that we didn’t give either of them any choice as to their “imprisoned” state in the first place?! No, the only real difference between the two are those three dirty words, “for entertainment purposes.”

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    • The difference is quite simple and quite apparent to those who truly love animals.
      So here it is…
      1) the animals are NOT abused
      2) they ARE cared for and given shelter, food and water, and the best vet care possible.
      3) they are protected from those who would see them dead
      4) they are are content.
      5) they do not suffer, nor are they eaten by other animals nor do they “fight ” for survival.
      5) peta is and always has been against animal and human interactions.

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    • We don’t allow children to roam at will either. They have no “choice” in the matter. Do you advocate that children should be allowed to depart their confines “if or when they please”? Of course not…because children aren’t able to care for themselves and would be in danger of predation. So would animals that are kept confined for their own protection and care. And, like children, they are waited on hand and hoof.

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  3. PeTA is the outrageous front group for te animal rights movement, but the H$U$ is the nasty infiltrating AR-led group that has attempted to flim-flam the public into thinking they are mainstream animal welfare, when they are NOT. ALL of the leaders of the H$U$ are AR “true believers”. Look up their past statements (which they have tried in recent years to deny or whitewash). AR to the core—no animal use, everyone a vegan.

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  4. To get elephants to stand on their hind legs or sit on stools, Ringling beat them with bullhooks–heavy batons with a sharp steel hook on one end. The public was outraged.

    Forward-thinking municipalities nationwide recognized bullhooks as the weapons they are and banned them.

    In announcing the end of Ringling’s elephant acts, Kenneth Feld, owner of the circus’s parent company, said the cost of fighting legislation was too expensive. His daughter acknowledged that their had been a public mood shift.

    Ringling paid a record $275,000 fine to settle multiple violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act. Since 1992, at least 30 elephants, including babies, have died in its “care.”

    Ringling’s deplorable record of abusing animals is a matter of public record. It cannot be overstated.

    As for PETA being opposed to animal guardianship, the writer should do her homework and visit And for the record, I share my home with three dogs. The most recent to join the pack was a PETA rescue.

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  5. LucyP- Well said as for Al Smith- you have added a real depth and highly insightful argument here- you must be yet another Trump pinhead.

    Maryland Tracker- not sure what your problem is- are you proposing that animals be treated like prisoners and that’s your level of rationalizing humane treatment. If so that preposterous.

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  6. PETA is very upfront about their stance on euthanisia and it is one that 90% of animal activists agree with. The 10% who don’t are quite ignorant about the facts. Clearly each and every stray dog and cat that’s been left homeless can not be taken care of by the local animal shelters. Their dugests aren’t that big and there simply isn’t enoug room or resources. These animals are put down. Yes, it is horribly sad but it all comes down to quality of life. I encourage the writer of this blog to get informed. A good friend of mine is happy to speak with you about the falsehoods you’ve cited. She is the owner of Compassion Works International. IF you’re interested in getting a fair story you should reach out to her on their FB page. But if you’re not particularly interested in presenting an educated viewpoint in your articles, it’s not surprising.

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  7. as a ground activist I can tell you, it wasn’t particularly hard getting the crowds attending the circus to believe what we were saying about the animals being abused was true. All they had to do was LOOK at the elephants for themselves. The scars covering their bodies says everything that needs to be said. That’s why the final outcome of the case against PETA made zero difference. It was too late, the videos and pictures were already out there. Those could never be unseen or unpublished. The public started to care. I watched it happen right in front of my eyes. So I don’t ever want to hear from anyone that activism doesn’t do shit.

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