PETA Set Your Priorities

By Karla Fetrow

On the surface, PETA seems like the ideal organization to support if you have a consciousness for the fair treatment of animals and their conservation. After all, who wouldn’t agree that animal testing isn’t inhumane, that assembly line slaughter houses are abominable, or that placing a creature in an unnatural environment causes it to suffer? PETA has even raised some levels of awareness in humane activities. When Alaska’s elephant, Annabel, began to suffer poor health due to living in a harsh environment she wasn’t equipped to handle, a campaign was successfully launched to send her to a safari like animal conservatory and a chance to roam freely with other elephants, without the neat for an artificially heated shelter. Although Annabel had arrived in Alaska through no fault of the citizens; she was brought there by a traveling circus and abandoned years ago, the people were happy to pick up the charges for her upkeep, place her in the zoo and grow fond of her. They were very reluctant to let her go, but compassion ruled in their sensibilities and she was released to a wildlife reserve where she has been healthy and happy ever since. This was all largely due to PETA’s campaign.

However, some of PETA’s interference in Alaskan animal life policies have made them a very unwelcome presence. Arctic ice melt has forced Polar Bears to move farther inland in search for food. Last year, several made appearances in inland villages that normally never see villages, and two were shot and killed. PETA was very indignant, chastising the villagers for killing a member of an endangered species. Without a doubt, the villagers felt endangered. The favorite food of Polar Bears is seals; a very salty meat. The only inland animal with a high salt content is humans. There were children and women to protect. When it came down to eat or be eaten, the villagers preferred to eat.

A recent campaign to regard fish with the same mental attributes as mammals has resulted in a failure so great, even young girls punch holes in the argument. Said eleven year old, Harmony, the fourth generation of a commercial fishing family in Unalaska, “it just doesn’t look right,” after looking at the cartoon and reading through the information on the site. “They say that they’re intelligent, but they’re not really,” Harmony. “They have tiny, tiny little brains. Very miniature.” Her friend, Chastity, aged twelve, agreed. “They call them sea kittens. I don’t see them as sea kittens. I see them as food.”
The girls also take issue with the claims that sea kittens are unhealthy to eat. “They only talk about farm fish — it’s not wild Alaskan, which is very good for you,” Harmony said.

PETA’s claims that fish can feel affection and develop attachments in the same way as a mammal are highly dubious. Most fish species are cannibalistic and apparently rely more on instinct than any actual higher brain function. Their brains are indeed very tiny; even the shark has a proportionately smaller brain for size than the water dwelling mammals. If we are to rank the animals we eat according to brain capacity, in the natural kingdom fish would still rank just above vegetables. Appealing to the compassion of a tiny brained animal in a state where one third of the population is dependent on the fishing industry for its livelihood, and two thirds eat fish as one of the main indigenous foods in their diets is just not going to work.

PETA is very fond of making broad statements without scientific evidence. They stoutly insist that factory farming is the number one cause of greenhouse gasses, while the majority of scientists agree carbon dioxide from fossil fuel burning, creating pollutants, acid rain and dumping toxins into our ocean, altering the currents; is the leading man made attribute toward global warming. Although corporate farming creates its own harm through synthetic growth hormones, steroids, stimulants, crowded conditions leading to diseases and salmonella poisoning, methane gas is part of the natural composition for rejuvenating earth’s life cycles. If we returned to manure instead of oil-based fertilizers, we would grow healthier agricultural foods in chemically free soil.

They feel animal kind would have been better off without their domestication, which consequently would bump us down a few notches in the food pyramid. PETA has failed to recognize the importance domestic animals has contributed to our modern life styles Without their domestication, we’d still be in the stone age. . We would not have had oxen to pull carts, pack animals for travel, live stock liberating us from spending most of our time foraging. We would still be struggling with tiny garden plots, barely conscious of our neighbors, and shivering at night, worried about the wild animals that roamed around us. Dogs, originally used for guard duty, then later expanded to include hunting, pulling and other work capacities, would be dangerous pariahs, and cats, had they forever been shunned from domestication, would not have played their role in wiping out the Bubonic Plague.

The domestication of animals aided humankind over the process of several thousand years. There are many species that have developed such dependencies. They would not survive without the protective lines of fences, food and shelters. Although domestic animals may no longer be as useful to us as workers, and we wouldn’t need them if we all become vegetarian, they still need us. What to do about all the unwanted domestic animals? Once again, PETA offered a practical solution; spay and neuter your pets so they can’t reproduce. There are few pet owners who have visited the local dog pound who wouldn’t agree to this, although it seems a little surprising coming from a group that believes even teaching your dog to go to the bathroom outside is cruel. Spaying female dogs that have never had puppies often produces a life-long neurosis in the animal, leaving her with maternal cravings and exercising her motherly instincts on everything from stuffed animals to small children. Neutering animals doesn’t decrease their alpha desires. They’ll still hump everything in sight, desperately trying to reduce their blank shot urges. However, it’s far less painful to watch your cherished pet suffer frustrated natural urges than it is to try and find homes for excess puppies and kittens.

The problem is, PETA goes beyond the scope of trying to reduce the unwanted pet population. Their ultimate goal seems to be the complete eradication of domestic animals. According to a 2007 report from the office of the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, PETA terminated the lives of ninety percent of the unwanted animals placed in their care, while the Virginia Humane Society managed to find homes for sixty five percent of their animal orphans. With a thirty million dollar a year income to build shelters and ethically treat animals according to their ideals, this seems a little shocking.

Euthanasia seems to be their favorite solution. The recent protests against chicken nugget producers is not against the way corporate farming raises them; in tight little boxes, never seeing sun light, shot full of stimulants so as to drop two eggs a day in their productive years; but in the manner that they are killed. PETA wants the slaughter houses to use gas instead of whacking their heads off, even though it hasn’t been proven that gas is any less painful to the chicken’s short-lived trauma than butchering them.

At best PETA is a cult, ignoring the laws of nature or attempting to re-organize them in the sense of their fair play. Nature has its own agenda. The lion is not going to sleep with the lamb until nature makes the lion an herbivore. Fish are not going to be viewed as sea kittens until they develop fur, legs and a playful, cuddly disposition. We are not going to be able to live in harmony with our animals gone wild until these animals leave our crops and trees alone, are taught not to invade our streets and homes, or endanger our lives. At worst, PETA is an organization, wasting millions of dollars in tax payers money, tying up courts with such intricacies as administering euthanasia to circus animals because they’re better off dead, and allowing villages to starve as they’re cruel to the fish. They diminish the efforts of other wild life organizations whose main purpose is to maintain a healthy balance between all species of creatures. They demand we relinquish our centuries old relationship with domestic animals; a relationship that has entailed a bondage of mutual service, responsibility and affection; and release these animals out into the wild so they can be duly slaughtered by their predators. They have joined the throw away society. Since domesticated animals no longer have a use for them; after all, we now have plenty of technology to replace their servitude; we should just throw them away. This may sound fine to urban dwellers whose only adjustment would be in becoming vegetarian and wearing cotton or oil based synthetics, but it’s sad, lonely and somewhat frightening to the rural person who struggles with the forces of nature, hunger, herbivores that steal their crops and predators that lurk just beyond their fields every day.

About karlsie

Some great perversity of nature decided to give me a tune completely out of keeping with the general symphony; possibly from the moment of conception. I learned to read and speak almost simultaneously. The blurred and muffled world I heard through my first five years of random nerve loss deafness suddenly came alive with the clarity of how those words sounded on paper. I had been liberated for communications. I decided there was nothing more wonderful than writing. It was easier to write than carefully modulate my speech for correct pronunciation, and it was easier to read than patiently follow the movements of people’s lips to learn what they were saying. It was during that dawning time period, while I slowly made the connection that there weren’t that many other people who heard the way I did, halfway between sound and music, half in deafness, that I began to understand that the tune I was following wasn’t quite the same as that of my classmates. I was just a little different. General education taught me not only was I just a little isolated from my classmates, my home was just a little isolated from the outside world. I was born in Alaska, making me part of one of the smallest, quietest minorities on earth. I decided I could live with this. What I couldn’t live with was discovering a few years later, in the opening up of the pipeline, which coincided with my first year of junior college, that there were entire communities of people; more than I could possibly imagine; living impossibly one on top of another in vast cities. It wasn’t even the magnitude of this vision that inspired me so much as the visitors who came from these populous regions and seemed to possess a knowledge so great and secretive I could never learn it in any book. I became at once, very conscious of how rural I was and how little I knew beyond the scope of my environment. I decided it was time to travel. The rest is history; or at least, the content of my stories. I traveled... often to college campuses, dropping in and out of school until one fine day by chance I’d fashioned a bachelor of arts degree in psychology. I’ve worked a couple of newspapers, had a few poems and stories tossed around in various small presses, never receiving a great deal of money, which I’m assured is the norm for a writer. I spent ten years in Mexico, watching the peso crash. There is some obscure reason why I did this, tightening up my belt and facing hunger, but I believe at the time I said it was for love. Here I am, back home, in my beloved Alaska. I’ve learned somewhat of a worldly viewpoint; at least I like to flatter myself that way. I’ve also learned my rural roots aren’t so bad after all. I work in a small, country store. Every day I greet the same group of local customers, but make no mistake. My store isn’t a scene out of Andy Griffith. The people who enter the establishment, which also includes showers, laundry and movie rentals, are miners, oil workers, truck drivers, construction engineers, dog sled racers and carpenters. Sometimes, on the liquor side, the conversations became adult only in vocabulary. It’s a good thing, on the opposite side of the store is a candy aisle filled with the most astonishing collection, it will keep a kid occupied with just wishing for hours. If you tell your kids they can have just one, you have an instant baby sitter; better than television; as they agonize over their choice while you catch up on the gossip with your neighbor. We also receive a lot of tourists, a lot of foreign visitors. They are usually amazed at this first sign of Alaskan rural life style beyond the insulating hub of the Anchorage bowl. Many of them like to hang around and chat. They gawk at our thieves wanted posters. They laugh at our jokes and camaraderie with our customers. I’ve learned another lesson while working there. You don’t have to go out and find the world. If you wait long enough, it comes to you.

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13 Comments on “PETA Set Your Priorities”

  1. Fish only have little, bitty feelings because they have little, bitty brains. I’ll bet the trees freak out every time they see a chain saw coming.

  2. Fish have like a 3 second memory – that’s why you can keep catching the same one over and over…
    Wasn’t it up in Alaska after that oil spill that they had found some animals and on one seal they spent a lot of money on to bring it back to health.
    When it came time to release it, they all cheered from the shoreline only to be shocked when an Orca whale came up and ate it in front of their eyes…
    Somehow, I found that a little amusing, but not for the seal.

    I’ve heard about PETA killing all those animals and thought that was so wrong. Aren’t they suppose to protect the animals??
    And I’ll tell you another thing. If a wolf were to come into my yard I’d give it a warning shot first, the next one would be for real.
    But I suppose it doesn’t help that I have a bunch of deer tallow and carrion out there for the birds from last years deer hunt. The birds love it though. It helps them through the cold winter.

    Decisions, decisions….

    Okay, two warning shots, then the next one is for real … lol… 🙂

  3. I don’t see how fish can be cuddly sea creatures. You know how they say some people have a green thumb it’s natural. Well does that apply to fish tanks? Would it be a blue thumb that one would need? Because ever since I was a little girl fish always died on me. I guess I don’t have a blue thumb or half a green thumb for that matter. Since half my plants always die. Jeez don’t tell PETA before they start a plant coalition.

    As for your article above, you do prove some points. I find it ironic that PETA is all for protecting animals, yet euthanizing animals is a practice they preach. And what is worse than neutering? Funk that.

    You’re work always has a nice flow to it.

  4. Wind, you keep a good eye on Alaskan wildlife news. I’m always surprised at the number of people who seem to think we can somehow control wild animal behavior. Our compassionate feelings toward wild animal life is not necessarily going to elicit compassionate feelings in them. In fact, there are times our kindness can be harmful; when wolves, foxes, moose, bears become so tame by our handouts and tolerance, they have no idea there are humans out there that wish to kill them. The Katmai Bay is a prime example. It’s been the haven of wildlife photographers who craved a natural environment for filming grizzleys. Its reputation grew to the point where not only wildlife photographers from all over the world spent their summers in the Katmai, but so did wealthy tourists who wished a unique filming experience. When Palin signed the bill for bear control, the Katmai was one of the first areas targeted. At the summer’s end, after the tourists had chuckled at cubs, watched their mothers fish, learned all the intricacies of bear behavior, and gone away; the same guides that had given the tourists a viewing expedition, accompanied hunters on a shooting exhibition.

    These bears that had grown so used to humans, they lived alongside them, had no idea their next encounter would be with a bullet. For the mighty hunters who wanted a trophy, it wasn’t much different than going into a herd of cattle. What did the guides receive for their Judas treatment? Five thousand dollars for each bagged bear. Way to go, animal life management!

  5. “or that placing a creature in an unnatural environment causes it to suffer?”

    Now I’m questioning my pet parenting joy 🙁 …..I swear I treat them well…honest…cross my fingers and hope to die or spit or whatever! lol

  6. I don’t agree with everything Peta does, I’m pro-vegetarian, not pro-peta. I have a pet cat. I happen to feel if it is kill or be killed situation, then killing maybe justified. However I also can’t agree with the logic on the fish in this article. Brian size to body proportions are not the best judge of brain power.

    The ‘fact’ that fish have a 2/3 second memory is a myth. Research by the School of Psychology at the University of Plymouth in 2003 demonstrated that goldfish have a memory-span of at least three months and can distinguish between different shapes, colors and sounds. There has been a lot of very good research and studies about all different types of fish lately, and how intelligent they actually are.

    “Tests on fish in aquaria at Oxford University have shown that despite their tiny brains, they possess cognitive abilities outstripping those of some small mammals.

    Dr Theresa Burt de Perera made the discovery using blind Mexican cave fish, which rely on subtle changes in pressure to detect the presence of objects around them.
    In experiments, Dr Burt de Perera found that the fish did more than merely avoid bumping into objects in their tank. They built a detailed map of their surroundings, memorizing the obstacles in them within a few hours. Once stored in their brains, the fish used their “mental map” to spot changes in the obstacles around them – a feat that defeats hamsters.”

    I don’t see anyone arguing their right to eat hamsters here.

    I may not agree with a lot of Peta’s practices, but I don’t feel the core belief system should be attacked. The advertisements of the furry sea kittens was to show how outrageous it is to feel compassion for a critter just because it is furry, and not to give a second thought to a creature because of century old misguided teachings of intelligence. I very often don’t like the shock-value tactic of getting in the public eye that Peta uses, but I still believe in the basic fundamentals that drive them.

    As always though, wonderfully well written!

  7. Fish are yummy! I hope they remember that! Does anyone see the silliness of eschewing meat, animal products only to suppliment your diet with handfuls of capsules. This is because we are made to eat fleshy things. I don’t think we should go overboard, we should be prudent and practice good husbandry. Cattle lots are amoungst the top most disgusting things I have seen and smelt in my life, however there are ways to raise animals to eat that are human while still understanding there is a circle of life. And, I’m just curious. If we aren’t supposed to eat meat and it’s bad like they say…then why let the Polar Bears live? They eat meat too. Hell, let’s get rid of all meat eaters. I can’t make sense of it are non-human meat eaters somehow more in the right than human meat eaters? Is it only because of the advancements like animal pens and breeding?
    On another note, I think animal research is A-Ok! What else are we going to research on? There are some things that I don’t want to use until they have been checked out, how on earth are we supposed to make that happen? Can’t use people, not even prisoners because as you know there is a huge portion of that population “unfairly imprisoned”. But that is another issue.
    No I think responsible research using animals is probably a necessity. Now my idea of responsible and a sociopath’s are going to be different so there should be some guidelines but please tell me if you know any Vegans/PETA members who turn down Chemotherapy because that was tested on animals. Or how about mood stabilizers, also tested on animal. I would be interested in talking to a PETA member who turned down Measles and Mumps vaccinations because of their steadfast brotherhood with animals and their need to protect them from testing at all costs.

  8. Humans are yummy too so I’ve heard, but I don’t eat them either.

    I don’t see any silliness in treating all life as I want to be treated. My diet is just great, I don’t have to take any pills for anything. But I’m sure all the people fatting up on fast food flesh sure will have to take numerous amounts of pills when they get heart diseases and diabetes. The risk of developing heart disease among meat-eaters is 50 percent higher than it is among vegetarians.

    I will admit I do have some respect for the people who at least have the courage to kill the animal themselves before eating it, and not hide behind the hypocrisy of getting an already nicely cooking round pattie so that they don’t have to give it more then a seconds thought before digging in. American Indians and those who have no choice but to live off of the land, at least for the most part respect the land and the animal. But how many Americans today do you think could stomach killing, bleeding and skinning their own meat?

    And no where is there any evidence that we were made to eat meat either. There is a good amount of evidence to the contrary in fact. The human body is a marvel and can cope with a great many unnatural things that we do to it (aka like all the chemicals and man-made hormones most Americans are digesting in their everyday foods) but that doesn’t mean it is good for us.

    Animal research is a much harder thing. I wouldn’t say it was A-ok. It is terrible. But in some cases in my opinion, yes it can be a necessary evil. I would sacrifice myself if it were to save thousands of people, but I’d still hope the tests would be as humane as possible if I were to be the lab-rat. But with the vast advancements we have in technology, there is often very little need for animal testing now-a-days. The continuing practice of animal testing is done most often because of cost. plain and simple. Pain and suffering to save a buck once again in my humble opinion is WRONG. And I’m glad there are things like Peta who are rallying against it and trying to make small steps of advancement.

    It is safe to say I do get a little heated about this topic 🙂

  9. There is one thing i agree upon; if we eat meat, we should have some acknowledgment of what we are eating. I’ve spent far more time on farms and in villages than i have in cities. I understand what it means to take life, see it die or help bring it to birth. If people knew the wonderful, smooth roundness of a cow’s side and looked into the large, teary, long lashed eyes, i think there would be more hesitacy about eating her. If they saw the intelligence of a pig, that is equivalent to a dog’s and as easy to train, they wouldn’t find the bacon on the table as appetizing. Removing yourself from the source of what you are eating is no different than dropping bombs from an airplane. Since you don’t see your victims, you have no feelings of accountability.

    You might be interested in studying animal testing for stem cell research. A little, hideous vision i witnessed while watching “Animal Planet”; a mouse that had a human ear growing on its back. If PETA would go after those guys, i just might join the cheering section.

  10. I agree completely Karla, it is a different mindset to eat what you raise and if nothing else it fosters understanding and thanksgiving, both good qualities.
    I am not a big fan of human ears on the back of mice, why don’t they grow something more useful like lips and vocal cords so the mice can tell us they are unhappy…or not?

  11. Hannibal Lector thought humans were yummy. I must say, being a vegetarian and all, I thought he was the good guy in the movie. (In that he ate a bunch of losers, dummies and jerks that crossed him) I cheered when he got away from the police and dumped that nosy bitch Jodie Foster. I probably wouldn’t have dinner with Hannibal, but do respect his right to eat meat.

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