People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) are an animal rights non-profit organization based in the United States.

The Center for Organizational Research and Education lobbies against PETA, and runs the PETA Kills Animals site. They describe about an attempt to conduct an inspection of an "Animal Shelter" at the PETA headquarters in Virginia.

... most animals taken in by PETA aren’t housed for very long. After reviewing two months worth of records, Kovich found that 245 of the 290 animals–84 percent–that PETA took into custody were killed within 24 hours.

A PETA web-site to counter those claims, Is ‘PETA Kills Animals’ a scam?, attempts to refute those claims:

We welcome every animal in need—without waiting lists, far-off appointments, admission fees, or restricted hours—including those whom "no-kill" shelters have refused to accept simply because they requested euthanasia. PETA takes in dogs who are dangerously aggressive and/or suffering from advanced, deadly heartworm disease after spending their lives chained outdoors; sick and/or injured feral cats who are sometimes ravaged by the feline immunodeficiency virus, feline leukemia, or other contagious, fatal diseases; elderly animals with extremely poor quality of life, who can no longer see, walk, or eat; and animals who are suffering and unadoptable for other reasons. We transfer almost every adoptable animal to local open-admission shelters (which, unlike "no-kill" shelters, don't turn away the very animals who are often the most in need) for a chance at finding a home. We also find permanent, loving homes for many animals.

Does PETA euthanize unwanted pets at its Virginia headquarters? Does it account for 84% of the animals they receive?

  • 3
    This question doesn't match the claim, which is that 84% of animals taken in at one facility were euthanized. That is very different to the image you are painting. I will edit to match.
    – Oddthinking
    Jan 20, 2017 at 7:12
  • 6
    Is this as simple as: adoptable pets are sent to public shelters, while unadoptable pets are sent to this nominal-for-legal-purposes shelter to be put down? That seems consistent with all the claims.
    – Oddthinking
    Jan 20, 2017 at 7:25
  • 6
    @oddthinking Except that PETA doesn't believe anyone should have pets and puts them all down, sometimes even before checking whether they needed adoption in the first place.
    – Shadur
    Jan 20, 2017 at 7:33

1 Answer 1


TL;DR: Yes, PETA kills (euthanizes) about 2,000 cats and dogs each year at the headquarters of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals in Norfolk, Virginia, USA as confirmed by the New York Times interview with Daphna Nachminovitch, vice president of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

“It’s nice for people who’ve never worked in a shelter to have this idealistic view that every animal can be saved,” said Daphna Nachminovitch, PETA’s vice president for cruelty investigations. “They don’t see what awful physical and emotional pain these poor dogs and cats suffer.” Over the last decade, PETA has euthanized 1,045 to 1,942 cats a year at the shelter here. “It’s a humane exit from a world that’s treated them like garbage,” said Ms. Nachminovitch, a vegan who does not use animal products. “It’s very sad, but in these cases, it’s the best we can hope for.” Source: PETA Finds Itself on Receiving End of Others’ Anger.

Daphna Nachminovitch, PETA’s senior vice president and head of its cruelty investigations unit, does not dispute that the vast majority of the thousands of animals in PETA custody each year are euthanized. PETA puts a high proportion of animals down, Nachminovitch explains, because it ministers to those that many other shelters turn away, often because of the shelters’ ”no kill” policies. Source: At PETA’s shelter, most animals are put down. PETA calls them mercy killings


  1. From 1998 to 2003, PETA had killed more than 10,000 animals by euthanasia in the state of Virginia.

The Center for Consumer Freedom, which represents the food industry, a frequent target of PETA campaigns, released data filed by PETA with the state of Virginia that shows PETA has killed more than 10,000 animals from 1998 to 2003. "In 2003, PETA euthanized over 85 percent of the animals it took in," said a press release from the lobby, "finding adoptive homes for just 14 percent. By comparison, the Norfolk (Va.) SPCA found adoptive homes for 73 percent of its animals and Virginia Beach SPCA adopted out 66 percent." Source: Better dead than fed, PETA says

In USA, approximately 2.7 million animals are euthanized (1.2 million dogs and 1.4 million cats) each year by various animal shelters.

Approximately 7.6 million companion animals enter animal shelters nationwide every year. Of those, approximately 3.9 million are dogs and 3.4 million are cats. Approximately 2.7 million shelter animals are adopted each year (1.4 million dogs and 1.3 million cats). About 649,000 animals who enter shelters as strays are returned to their owners. Of those, 542,000 are dogs and only 100,000 are cats. Of the dogs entering shelters, approximately 35% are adopted, 31% are euthanized and 26% of dogs who came in as strays are returned to their owner. Of the cats entering shelters, approximately 37% are adopted, 41% are euthanized, and less than 5% of cats who came in as strays are returned to their owners. About twice as many animals enter shelters as strays compared to the number that are relinquished by their owners. Source: ASPCA.

  1. Total number of animals killed (euthanized) by PETA from 1998 to 2014 was 33,514 in the State of Virginia according to the numbers obtained from PETA's disclosures to Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS).

The number of animals killed at a People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) facility in Virginia increased 30 percent in 2014, according to a new report by the Center for Consumer Freedom. The report said 33,514 animals have died since 1998 at the hands of PETA. The kill numbers come from the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS), which requires annual disclosures. A 2010 inspection conducted by a VDACS revealed that 84 percent of the animals PETA took in were killed within 24 hours, the CCF said. Only 1.5 percent of dogs and cats reportedly found a permanent home outside of the shelter. Source: PETA’s Virginia shelter killed 88% of rescued pets last year, up 30%: report.

The 2014 numbers were higher than the previous 2013 year's numbers.

By law, PETA and other animal shelters are required to submit their records annually to the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. The records show that in 2014, PETA took in 1,606 cats and 1,025 dogs. The fate of those animals breaks down as follows: 16 of those cats were adopted, 43 were given to other Virginia Releasing Agencies, and 1,536 (95.64 percent) were euthanized. 23 of PETA’s 1,025 dogs were adopted, 209 were transferred to other Virginia Releasing agencies, and 788 (nearly 77 percent) were euthanized. Those numbers are higher than the previous year. In 2013, PETA euthanized 90.7 percent of the cats and 70 percent of dogs it took in. Source: PETA euthanasia numbers up from last year.

The shelter also did only few adoptions which is 19 animals in 2012 and 24 animals in 2011 according to the Virginia state records.

  • 2
    This makes me so angry. Do they kill those animals because they truly believe that they're better off dead, or because they can't stand to see them suffer? I support voluntary euthanasia for humans, but the fact is that most humans want to cling to life as long as possible, even when in extreme pain. That's why life support is such a big business. Animals are the same way. They don't want to die, and for an organization headed by a vegan, one that supposedly values the rights of animals so much that they don't even support pet ownership, to ignore this is foolish and self-serving.
    – Obie 2.0
    Feb 16, 2018 at 16:20
  • The reason suffering exists in the first place is the avoidance of death. While some non-human animals, just like some humans, do want to die when they're in great pain, I suspect most don't. Even critically wounded animals often fight to avoid being killed by predators. Now, I could understand why the majority of people (who don't have as expansive a definition of animal rights as PETA) engage in pet euthanasia. If you believe it's acceptable to eat animals (say), it's only logical that you should be able to euthanize them. But it's so much more ugly coming from them.
    – Obie 2.0
    Feb 16, 2018 at 16:24
  • 5
    The funny thing is that I bet far more pets want to stay with their families than to die. But PETA opposes one (as I understand it) and apparently not the other.
    – Obie 2.0
    Feb 16, 2018 at 16:28

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