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 circus is planning to shut down after 146 years of business, my initial thought was the circus industry is outdated and younger generations no longer have the desire to attend this “old-fashioned” form of entertainment.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

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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


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