Is PETA against owning pets?

First, I would like to disclose the fact that I am a great supporter of PETA. Not everyone is, though as I would expect as PETA has to take a strong position in support of animal welfare. The world needs this organisation. Many people dislike it. There is a substantial group of vocal people online who consistently criticise PETA but I believe they are mistaken. A lot of the criticism arises out of misconceptions and misinformation which circulate around social media. And it’s sad to say that a great animal advocate, Nathan Winograd, consistently and persistently attacks PETA. I think he is misguided and wrong. Although I admire him in the same way that I admire PETA.

The rumors being spread on social media by cyberbully and purveyor of fake news Nathan Winograd are full of half-truths and misinformation. As you know, in addition to spay and neuter services that address the root causes of the companion animal overpopulation crisis, PETA fieldworkers in these parts of the country are doing more than anyone else to abate animal overpopulation, neglect, and homelessness, saving more lives than all other groups combined. PETA has spent more than $2.5 million per year on this 24/7 work and on our lifesaving mobile spay/neuter clinics, preventing the births of thousands upon thousands of dogs and cats.

The cute world of pet ownership is not always as cute as it seems. PETA demands improvements or no pets at all.
The cute world of pet ownership is not always as cute as it seems. PETA demands improvements or no pets at all.
Until September 7th I will give 10 cents to an animal charity for every comment. It is a way to help animal welfare without much effort at no cost. Comments help this website too, which is about animal welfare.

For PETA there are too many failures in the ‘pet’ marketplace

PETA is not against owning companion animals. They make it clear on their website that they “love and respect animal companions who share our homes”. In fact, they would like people of the right quality and concern to adopt companion animals from shelters; sometimes adopting two at the same time is preferable particularly when they come together as a couple. In essence, the more people who adopt companion animals from shelters the better as far as PETA is concerned. We can save lives as it re-homes those animals that were unwanted and who deserve to have a loving caregiver.

For PETA breeding pets can’t be justified and it is often an abusive process

What PETA is resolutely against is creating more companion animals i.e. breeding them either in backyard puppy or kitten mills or I suspect even by registered cat and dog breeders with the relevant associations. They are, of course, particularly concerned about backyard breeders because they abuse their animals through neglect and through a lack of concern for their welfare.

Formal cat and dog breeders registered with associations care about their animals normally as they must to maintain high standards of welfare in order to attract customers to buy their kittens and puppies. But once again, these often nice people are creating companion animals when there are unwanted companion animals in shelters. And some are not nice people and some breed their animals to extreme (see below).

I can remember on breeder saying that newborn kittens are not really living creatures which gave her the right she felt to ‘cull’ them if they were of the wrong quality. ‘Culling’ meant kill.

And PETA hammer on, as the must, about a greedy industry of breeders selling “pets” and at the same time causing a “tremendous amount of misery”. There are millions of dogs and cats confined to dirty, cramped cages in kitten and puppy mills. These female cats and dogs are forced to churn out litter after litter until their bodies are exhausted. They are then discarded as an unproductive asset.

Like myself and numerous veterinarians, PETA is troubled by the extreme breeding practices that adhere to cat and dog association guidelines known as breed standards. These practices lead to anatomical distortions in animals, which consequently result in poor health and shortened lives. As a result, these animals often “endure a lifetime of debilitating health problems,” according to PETA’s statements.

And PETA believe that there are “nowhere near enough good homes for all the animals who already exist which results in almost unimaginable suffering”; a common-sense statement. It’s impossible on a rational level to justify the breeding of cat and dog companion animals as long as there are unwanted pets being dumped at shelters or at the side of the road.

PETA “love and respect the animal companions who share our homes”. And they say that there is a myth which circulates the Internet that PETA wants to confiscate companion animals and set them free. I guess some people are saying this but it is factually untrue. What they want is to reduce the “tragic overpopulation of dogs and cats through spaying and neutering”.

Quality of caregiving

I think that PETA is concerned about the quality of caregiving. As all of us should be. Not everybody is suited to looking after a companion animal and PETA encourages “people who have the time, money, patience and commitment and love needed to care for an animal for life”. That’s a clear-cut statement which demands that people with the right commitment and attitude adopt companion animals from shelters. That is the only way for a person to adopt a companion animal.

PETA highlights the theft of exotic wild animals from their natural habitats to supply the exotic pet market. Many individuals are captivated by exotic pets, such as semi-domesticated caracals or tame servals. For instance, cheetahs are often kept as pets in the Middle East. These animals are likely taken from the wild, separated from their mothers at a young age. Subsequently, they are shipped globally, and tragically, many perish during this ordeal.

Many less exotic animals die in large numbers when supplying this marketplace of small animals such as hamsters, rabbits, rats, mice, guinea pigs and ferrets. There is a huge amount of animal suffering in the Far East where there’s lots of illegal trade in animals. Often the people who buy these ‘pets’ don’t have the expertise to look after them and the animals’ suffering continues until they languish and die prematurely and sometimes painfully.

The marketplace in wildlife trading is enormous. The intergovernmental treaties to stop it are next to useless. There is no prospect of this huge multibillion-dollar market stopping.

There are many other aspects of the companion animal marketplace which PETA finds objectionable. Of course, they find declawing objectionable as does any other decent person or group of people. I hate the operation and have written hundreds of articles about it. There’s been some success in stopping it in America. It’s a slow process; too slow.

Animals should be free to live their lives naturally

PETA rather radically “believe that it would be in animals’ best interest if they were no longer bred to be dependent upon humans.” That statement, as I read it, is saying that although PETA, as mentioned above, accept the concept of companion animals, they would rather there were no companion animals and that animals were allowed to live in the wild, independent of people.

This would imply that the domestic animal marketplace is failing which it surely is. I know it’s very negative to say this and people might blame one for saying it. People certainly criticise PETA for what they see as an extreme attitude. But I don’t see it as extreme which is why I am in sympathy with them. There are hundreds of millions of feral cats in the world. There should be none. Their are also millions of feral dogs in the world when there should be none. These are all signs of failure in the domestic animal marketplace.

Companion animals need to express their instinctive desires

PETA posits that numerous companion animal caregivers fail to provide their pets with sufficient opportunities to fulfill their natural instincts. They are overly controlled by their human owners. This contributes to the trend of confining cats indoors permanently. The issue of not permitting cats to indulge in their inherent behaviors is exacerbated for those kept indoors. Often, they reside in sterile home environments devoid of entertainment. The surroundings lack any semblance of nature. Consequently, they succumb to boredom, eat excessively, become obese; a significant issue that leads to health complications and premature death.

Those are my views but I think PETA is hinting at that problem of a failure in cat and dog caregiving. And I’m referring to good or decent cat and dog caregivers. I’m not mentioning the very bad ones who essentially abuse their animals to neglect. These people are in breach of the criminal law. But there very rarely prosecuted because it is very hard to enforce animal welfare laws. And also there is a lack of commitment by law enforcement to do so.

PETA add that “well-meaning guardians routinely failed to provide their animals with basic daily necessities as well as opportunities for fun to make their lives interesting and joyous.”

And many people acquire animals on impulse. This occurred during the Covid-19 pandemic when there was a huge surge in adoptions of cute puppies such as the French Bulldog, a highly unhealthy dog, often bred in puppy mills in Eastern Europe and sold in the UK after being illegally imported. The French Bulldog is the epitome of the unhealthy, selectively bred to extreme, puppy which attracts people who want to adopt in a self-indulgent process.

There is so much to say but I’ll stop there. PETA ends by saying that for all the reasons I mentioned above and their own reasons, “PETA works hard to prevent more animals from being born only to end up homeless or abused.” PETA is dissatisfied with the domestic pet marketplace. So am I. But I feel I’m a very reasonable person. I don’t feel that I am a negative person who is over-critical.

Perhaps myself and PETA just see things differently to the vast majority of companion animal owners. Perhaps our standards are set too high. We don’t take enough account of the failures of people. But we have to set high standards because these are sentient beings with emotions. They can feel pain, joy and sadness and we need to minimise their misery at all times. This is our duty.

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