PETA

NGO overview

PETA (People for ethical treatment of animals) is an animal rights organisation based in Norfolk, Virginia (USA). With its 9 million members and supporters globally, it claims to be the biggest animal rights organisation world wide. PETA raises awareness through education campaigns, projects, research, reporting, animal rescues and investigative data gathering.

Who is PETA

PETA was founded in 1980 by Ingrid Newkirk and Alex Pacheco with the goal to stand up for animals’ rights and promote a healthy vegan diet. Newkirk remains the international President of the organisation up until today.

The organisation caught the public’s attention for the first time in 1981 with the Silver Spring Monkey case, which resulted in the first arrest of an animal researcher who experimented with monkeys and abused them in a laboratory.

PETA’s guiding principle is that animals are not for us to eat, wear, kill, experiment on or abuse in any other way. They clearly stand up against speciesism and promote animal rights through educational campaigns, protests and research investigations.  While the headquarters are located in Norfolk (Virginia), the organisation is today active in many countries around the world, among others in Germany, the UK, France, Australia, Switzerland and India.

PETA has been criticized in instances of being too extreme. However, the organisation has also achieved major changes in the animal rights realm, for example engaging in conversation with some of the largest fashion companies leading them to abandon the use of fur or animal-testing.

Official mission PETA

“Animals are not ours to experiment on, eat, wear, use for entertainment, or abuse in any other way.”

National information

PETA Timeline

  • 1980: Foundation of “PETA International”
  • 2002: Foundation of the youth branch peta2

Positive local controverses

  • 2006: After Australian wildlife expert and animal keeper Steve Irwin dies in an accident, PETA criticizes Irwin’s life work and insults him. The organization earns a lot of criticism and Australian MP Bruce Scott demands that PETA apologizes to Irwin’s family.
  • 2008: PETA runs an advertising campaign linking milk consumption to autism. According to the organization, it cites studies that indicate a link between the consumption of cow’s milk and various diseases, including autism. The campaign receives much criticism as also scientists criticize the campaign on the basis of spreading of wrong information. PETA leaves the information on the website nevertheless.
  • 2014: PETA openly supports euthanasia in animal welfare and instead of adoption programs PETA supports castration programs. In 2011, according to its own data, 95% of the animals in its shelter were euthanized. In 2014, the organization was publicly criticized after PETA staff found a dog and euthanized it the same day. Later they found out that the dog belonged to a family who had been looking for it. The family then sued PETA.

Positive local controverses

  • 2006: After Australian wildlife expert and animal keeper Steve Irwin dies in an accident, PETA criticizes Irwin’s life work and insults him. The organization earns a lot of criticism and Australian MP Bruce Scott demands that PETA apologizes to Irwin’s family.
  • 2008: PETA runs an advertising campaign linking milk consumption to autism. According to the organization, it cites studies that indicate a link between the consumption of cow’s milk and various diseases, including autism. The campaign receives much criticism as also scientists criticize the campaign on the basis of spreading of wrong information. PETA leaves the information on the website nevertheless.
  • 2014: PETA openly supports euthanasia in animal welfare and instead of adoption programs PETA supports castration programs. In 2011, according to its own data, 95% of the animals in its shelter were euthanized. In 2014, the organization was publicly criticized after PETA staff found a dog and euthanized it the same day. Later they found out that the dog belonged to a family who had been looking for it. The family then sued PETA.

International information

PETA International history

  • 1980: Foundation of “PETA International”
  • 1993: Foundation of “PETA Germany”
  • 2000: Foundation of “PETA India”

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