Written by Jeff Mackey
In August 2012, PETA was contacted by a whistleblower who had
been volunteering for several months as an animal care assistant for a licensed
wildlife rehabilitator operating out of her Florida home. Cruelty Investigations
Department staffers urged the whistleblower to document her report that ill, injured, and
orphaned wild animals taken into the home were living in utter squalor and that
the rehabilitator left animals to languish without food or water.
The shocking conditions depicted in footage taken by the
whistleblower over the course of three weeks included the following:
PETA alerted state and federal wildlife officials, sparking
an investigation whose findings corroborated the whistleblower's reports and led
to the confiscation of numerous suffering turtles, tortoises, and birds.
With PETA pushing for action, the Florida
Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission filed 23 charges against the rehabber for animal neglect, improper animal housing, and
unsanitary conditions. The state attorney's office also charged her with one
count of maintaining wildlife in unsanitary conditions.
Following a plea bargain, the woman
ceased the pretense of rehabilitating animals, and the survivors were removed
from her care for release back into the wild or transfer to other facilities
better equipped to meet their needs.
Even well-meaning animal rescuers can become overwhelmed.
Worse, many out-of-control hoarders use rescue as a pretext, causing massive suffering for the animals who fall
into their hands. If you become aware of animals suffering in a supposed rescue
or rehab facility, please document conditions with a camera or camera phone and
report the perpetrators to
Update: Brent Justice and Ashley
Richards have been indicted
by a federal grand jury for creating and
distributing animal crush videos. They have been transferred into federal
custody, where they will remain until they stand trial. Justice and Richards
each face up to 45 years in federal prison and up to $1.75 million in
fines. This is the first federal indictment of a crush video case in the United
Originally posted on August 21:
After PETA was alerted to violent fetish videos sold online showing
puppies, kittens, rabbits, mice, and other animals who were tortured in ways that would make even a hardened person
Cruelty Investigations Department staffers worked around the clock to find the perpetrators. Thanks to skillful sleuthing and
with the help of the Animal
Beta Project, PETA determined that the alleged producers of the videos lived in Houston,
Texas, and rushed the evidence to local authorities. Two days later, the
Houston Police Department (HPD) arrested
Brent Justice and Ashley Richards, two suspects believed to be involved
in an international video sales scheme, on felony warrants and charged them with animal torture.
Photo: Houston Police Department/Houston Chronicle
PETA applauds the HPD and the Harris County District Attorney's Office
for their swift action. We will be pushing for federal charges as well, as
making crush videos is a violation of federal law. Such videos feature animals, including mice, puppies, kittens, and rabbits, slowly tortured to death for the sexual gratification of
Charges for both suspects result from a video that PETA gave to the HPD, in which a woman prosecutors say is Richards is shown
cutting the leg and slashing the neck and throat of a puppy before beheading
the struggling animal with a meat cleaver. Richards also faces charges related
to the torture and killing of a cat in a 2010 video. As the Houston Chronicle reports, a "judge halted the reading of the court documents during a hearing last week because the details were too graphic." Richards has reportedly admitted to killing hundreds of
animals over the years. The investigation is
As this case shows, for animals in danger, one phone call or e-mail can the make the difference between life and (perhaps a horrible) death.
Please, if you witness or hear about cruelty to animals, never be silent.
As we've mentioned recently, PETA is working overtime—literally—to restrict or outlaw the chaining of dogs in the cities that make up its Hampton Roads home turf in Virginia. One of those cities that still hasn't passed an anti-chaining ordinance is Newport News—and that has to change.
Here's why: Just weeks after PETA discussed the possible adoption
of a tethering ban with representatives from the city of Newport News—who declined
to take up any chaining regulations at this time—a PETA fieldworker looking for
animals in need in Newport News found this dog, Weezy, chained in someone's
Dogs aren't objects that can be dumped outside, chained, and
forgotten about—they're sensitive, social beings who require good care and consideration. Like those of many lonely and vulnerable chained dogs whose owners can't be
bothered to spare more than minimal attention or care, Weezy's collar was so
tight that it had become embedded in his neck, resulting in a deep, painful,
and infected wound.
Weezy was seized by law-enforcement authorities and treated
by a veterinarian, and the cruel man responsible for Weezy's suffering has been
charged with cruelty to animals. But there is a way to prevent other dogs from experiencing
this same type of pain: by passing a restriction or an all-out ban on chaining.
PETA's out in front on this issue because its cruelty caseworkers have witnessed time and again how dogs suffer at the end of chains. Chained dogs are psychologically and physically
neglected. They often suffer from exposure, dehydration, starvation, untreated
injuries, maddening flea and tick infestations, flystrike, heartworm disease,
and more. It's not uncommon for chained dogs to hang to death after becoming
entangled in their tether or to accidentally hang themselves on objects around
them. Chaining also puts the
public at risk since chained dogs often unleash their frustration on other people, including children.
Please join PETA in politely urging the Newport News mayor and City Council members to join neighboring Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Hampton, Portsmouth, and
Smithfield in passing an anti-tethering ordinance before another animal suffers
like Weezy. And if your community lacks a chaining ban, please encourage local authorities to take up legislation immediately.
The story is a common one but still heartrending: Deuce's
owners bought him as a puppy, but when he got big—although still full of energy
and enthusiasm—instead of giving him gentle guidance and abundant exercise,
they kicked him out of the house and chained him to a tree.
Fortunately for Deuce, one kind soul saw that he was tied up
in the mud without shelter on a rainy day and took pity on him. After other
rescue organizations refused to help Deuce, PETA was contacted and immediately
arranged to have the pup picked up—the uninterested family surrendered him to
the rescuer—and taken to a
reputable animal shelter.
That would be enough of a tail-wagger for many animals who
are facing a similar plight, but Deuce's good fortune continued: Shortly after
arriving at the animal shelter, he was adopted by a loving family, and now he
spends every day indoors as a cherished member of the household.
Both dogs and cats are happier and safer indoors. Please, if you spot an animal left outside, be ready to help—and don't take "no"
for an answer!
When PETA learned that a Florida man was trapping (and
perhaps killing) squirrels directly under a bird feeder, a PETA cruelty caseworker jumped into action. While
the trapping was legal under state law—which meant that Florida Fish and
Wildlife Conservation Commission officials couldn't help—the squirrels suffered
for hours from the intense Florida heat and from anxiety, especially since
squirrels prefer to burrow and minimize their exposure to humans and other potential
In addition to asking Fish and Wildlife to confront the man
trapping the squirrels, the caseworker called and e-mailed the man and encouraged
one of the man's neighbors to speak to the trapper, who ultimately agreed to
stop capturing the squirrels. The neighbor was also urged to stop feeding
squirrels, which attracted more of them to the area.
There's no need to resort to drastic measures: Learn how to live in harmony with our wild-animal neighbors. Even if you enjoy wildlife, please think
carefully before feeding them, as doing so can expose them to predators and other dangers.
Written by Michelle Kretzer
spent their days relegated to a carport, cast aside like old exercise
equipment. The two dogs were locked inside crates from early in the morning
until dusk without a chance to relieve themselves and no way to escape from the
blistering Southern summer heat. The Labrador mix did not even have room to
neighbor who had to watch the dogs suffer had tried calling animal control for
help. And although officers went to the home and issued a warning, they refused to confiscate the dogs because the animals did not appear to be in immediate danger of dying from dehydration or heatstroke. Frustrated, the
neighbor called PETA for help.
called animal control every few days to file an animal welfare complaint
against the owner. Each time animal control paid a visit to the house, officers
issued the owner another warning. Realizing that he would either have to allow
his dogs indoors or continually deal with animal control, the owner surrendered
both dogs to the local shelter.
took a lot of persistence, but now both dogs have a
chance to find a new home with a guardian who understands that dogs belong indoors
with the rest of the family.
has a wealth of information on how crating is detrimental to dogs, which you can share with
anyone you know who is considering using these cruel cages (for even a short length of
former PETA staffer in Seattle was on her way to work when she spotted a pigeon whose leg appeared to
be broken. When the pigeon didn't try to fly away and let her gently wrap him
up in a sweatshirt, she knew he also likely had other injuries or hadn't been
able to forage for food and was weak from hunger or illness.
former staffer called PETA, and we put her in touch with a local wildlife rehabilitator, to whom she rushed the
took only a few minutes out of her day to get help for the bird, and she saved
him from suffering for days or even weeks from his injuries and possibly
starving, being killed by a predator, or being hit by a car.
actions serve as a reminder to all of us that we are never "too busy"
to help an animal who is in need.
Philbert was a full-grown tortoise in her 30s, she was being kept in a tiny
enclosure at an elementary school in New Jersey and was serving as the "school
even tiny turtles deserve
better than a tank, Philbert's life was just
a shell of the one she ought to have had. A substitute teacher got wind of the
fact that the school was looking for a new home for the tortoise, and she
called PETA to ask if we could help.
wonderful sanctuary, Wildlife
Rescue & Rehabilitation in San Antonio, was
happy to accept the ravishing reptile. And as luck would have it, a reliable
activist in Philbert's area was already going to be making the drive to San
Antonio and agreed to a reptilian road trip.
in place of her tank, Philbert has woods, grassland, and a pond to traverse and
explore. And in place of hundreds of children handling her, she has the
companionship of a male tortoise who has taken quite a shine to her. Tortoises
are natural plant lovers, and for Philbert, everything is coming up roses.
When someone in New Jersey
noticed that kids were pestering a goose who was sitting in the grass outside the
woman's apartment—and that the goose didn't fly away or fight back—it became
clear that the bird was injured. Her wing was drooping badly, and she was weak
and lethargic. With a friend's assistance, the goose was moved to a laundry
area to protect her from harassment and predators, but lacking a car, the
rescuer couldn't transport her to a wildlife rehabilitator licensed by the U.S.
Fish and Wildlife Service (since Canada geese are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act), as advised by authorities.
Fortunately for the goose, her
protector called PETA. Although there were no agencies in the area able to
retrieve an injured wild animal and transport her to a licensed rehabilitation facility
(this isn't uncommon since wildlife rehab centers are usually volunteer-run, without
staff to rescue or transport animals), PETA's caseworker located a rehabilitator who was willing to accept the bird—but that had already closed for the day.
With the rehabber's permission, the caller held the goose overnight. (Bless her
In the morning, PETA was able to
find an animal advocate to transport the bird to the rehabilitator, which
required driving for nearly three hours in all. (Bless his kind heart, too!)
The bird's injury was old, which
explains why she was so easy to catch. A wing was broken, and the surrounding
tissue was badly infected and necrotic. The bird was slowly dying from the
infection and had gotten to the point at which she had no energy to fight. The
goose had probably also lost her mate, which would cause depression in the
long-term. It was determined that the kindest course of action was to end her
suffering through properly administered euthanasia.
This case shows how one person can make a difference for an
animal in distress. If these compassionate people hadn't helped this goose, she
might still be lingering in agony—or dead after a violent attack by predators
(or simply cruel humans). Please never ignore animals who need help. Even if
the best-case scenario entails euthanasia, that's far kinder than leaving an
animal to endure prolonged suffering.
Written by Alisa Mullins
most wanted man, Luka Rocco
Magnotta, has been captured after allegedly posting a gruesome snuff video of the
murder and dismemberment of an acquaintance, Lin Jun, online and mailing some
of the victim's body parts to government offices. It turns out that this
probably isn't the self-described porn star's first videotaped killing.
protectionists have been tracking Magnotta for more than two years, ever since a video titled "1
boy 2 kittens" was posted online in 2010. The video showed a man who is believed to be Magnotta placing two
kittens inside a bag and suffocating them by vacuuming out the air. One year
later, a second video surfaced in which the same man allowed a kitten to
be attacked and eaten by a python. Days later, a third video appeared in which a cat was duct-taped to a broomstick and drowned in a bathtub
filled with water.
might end up killing human beings one day," read an eerily prophetic post on
the animal protection group Animal Beta Project's (ABP) Facebook page in 2011. "He
might just not stop with animals."
After the second video surfaced, PETA U.K. offered
a reward for information leading to the perpetrator's arrest, and PETA U.S.,
together with ABP, documented Magnotta's online profiles, blogs, websites,
known associates, relatives, and whereabouts. PETA and ABP passed the information
along to the Ontario SPCA and the Toronto Police Service, which unsuccessfully sought
warrants for Magnotta's arrest.
When Magnotta made the news earlier this week, PETA
got in touch with the Montréal police and provided it with the information on
the kitten-killing videos, in hopes of reviving the cruelty-to-animals charges
and bolstering the police's case against Magnotta. A member of the Montréal police
department's cyber team will be analyzing the information.
If Magnotta is indeed responsible for these heinous
crimes, could he have been prevented from graduating to murder if he'd been
caught and punished after killing kittens? We may never know, but this tragedy
is a prime example of why it is vital always to take acts of violence
against animals seriously and to prosecute the offenders vigorously. If you
ever witness cruelty, even by children, please report it to the authorities
immediately. You will be protecting the community as a whole, as well as
© Hands & Faces/Digital Vision/Getty Images
you have a general question for PETA and would like a response, please e-mail Info@peta.org. If you need to report cruelty to
an animal, please click
here. If you are reporting an animal in imminent danger and know where to find the
animal and if the abuse is taking place right now, please call your local
police department. If the police are unresponsive, please call PETA
immediately at 757-622-7382 and press 2.
Follow PETA on Twitter!
Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights? Read more.