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June 27, 2005

Means to an End

Editorial

Once in a not-to-great while events occur that draw the wrong kind of attention to a person or an organization. As might be expected the comments made by politicians often bring unanticipated and unwanted attention: i.e., Illinois Sen. Richard Durbin's recent comments on the Senate floor about our Guantanimo Naval Base.

For years we have heard complaints from an organization whose stated purpose is to protect animals from "inhumane" treatment. People for The Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), as an organization, has made often outrageous and unsubstantiated allegations about how animals are being treated.

We recall the furor PETA created not too long ago when they charged that poultry farmers on Maryland's Eastern Shore were treating their chickens and turkeys badly. We never heard the outcome of their charges, just the allegations.

Now a PETA chapter in North Carolina has been caught doing exactly what they accuse others of doing - mistreating animals.

An owner of a shopping center made repeated complaints to a local police agency about finding dead animals in the dumpsters on his property. So the police staked it out and arrested two PETA volunteers with a carload of pet carcasses.

Police investigators determined that these PETA representatives had been traveling around to area animal shelters, collecting dogs and cats with a promise to find them adoptive homes.

In reality, they weren't even looking for new homes for these unfortunate animals. They were planning a "loving" euthanasia in which they cradle and pet the animals while toxins course through their veins and kill them.

These PETA representatives have been charged with multiple counts of animal cruelty.

So now, a national spokeswoman for PETA is aggressively defending the practice of misleading local shelters to spirit away animals for a "loving death," saying these facilities often use other, more painful methods to kill the animals.

What is troubling about this situation is the self-righteousness that accompanies their actions.

Over the years PETA activists have had models parade nude to protest the use of animal fur in clothing. Some have thrown buckets of red paint on people walking down the street wearing a fur coat. And, of course, we must remember the aforementioned protests at chicken and turkey farms.

In the end, zealots always end up doing something really stupid - like the cases in North Carolina - to call their cause into question.

We don't for a minute condemn all the PETA volunteers for the ridiculous actions of a few "believers." But, then again, tempered enthusiasm is always a better course of action to accomplish necessary goals. It may take longer, but the results will last.



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