Vote Watch: Virginia

Bill 1381 in Virginia is aimed at stopping PETA from hiding its massive pet killing facility in Norfolk behind the name “shelter”:

The bill would amend section 3.2-6500 of the Code of Virginia, adding language stating a private animal shelter “means a facility operated for the purpose of finding permanent adoptive homes and facilitating other lifesaving outcomes for animals.”

PETA kills almost all of the animals it gets its hands on and in 2014, had just a 1% adoption rate.  So while PETA’s pet killing facility clearly doesn’t qualify as a shelter by any stretch of the imagination, it continues to operate as one legally in VA.  Bill 1381 will change that.  The bill has already passed in the State Senate and the House is scheduled to vote on it today.

Why it matters:  If PETA can no longer dupe the public with claims that their surrendered animals are being taken to a “shelter” and will be rehomed when in fact the animals will most likely be killed, that’s a win for animals and a win for public awareness.  If the bill becomes law, it seems highly unlikely PETA would apply for a license to operate a slaughterhouse, which is basically the business they have been running there for homeless dogs and cats.  So unless PETA wants to begin actually doing the hard work of sheltering animals by finding them new homes, the group will presumably be forced out of the pet killing business.  Again:  a win for animals.

If you are a Virginia resident, contact your delegate in the House to voice your support for Bill 1381.

As soon as anyone sees news about the vote, please leave a comment.

Page 15 in Wednesday’s Virginian-Pilot Newspaper

Photo of a full page ad in the Virginian-Pilot.  Click here to for a scanned version of the ad which is easily readable.

Photo of a full page ad appearing in the Virginian-Pilot on January 28, 2015. Click here to for a scanned version of the ad which is easily readable.

Maya’s story is here.

(Thanks Jean for sending me these images.)

Case Update: Rally for Maya on Monday, November 24

There is video evidence and an admission by PETA that two representatives of the group stole an owned chihuahua called Maya from her home on October 20 and killed her.  Accomack County Sheriff Todd Godwin brought charges against the two women but the commonwealth’s attorney has declined to prosecute the case. At issue for the commonwealth’s attorney is “intent”.

The video, which can be seen in this news story as well as on this Facebook page, appears to show the PETA van backing into the owner’s driveway, one of the women getting out and attempting to coax Maya off her porch by tossing treats toward her, then walking onto the porch and taking Maya away to the van.

The mobile home park owner reportedly had authorized PETA to pick up stray dogs in the mobile home park.  But Maya was obviously not a stray, refusing to venture far from her own porch, even when lured with treats.  To my mind, the video shows criminal intent:  the PETA employees know they are only authorized to pick up strays and since Maya clearly isn’t one, they attempt to legitimize her theft by luring her away from her porch, presumably so they can claim they found her wandering in the mobile home park and deemed her to be stray.

There is a rally outside the commonwealth attorney’s office slated for Monday at 10am in the town of Accomac.  If you attend, please let us know how it goes. For those outside the area, respectful letters requesting the commonwealth’s attorney, Gary Agar, pursue charges against PETA for the theft and killing of Maya can be e-mailed to

(Thanks to everyone who sent me links on this story.)

VA Family Says PETA Stole and Killed Their Dog

Maya, as pictured on the WAVY website.

Maya, as pictured on the WAVY website.

Maya the chihuahua was the beloved pet of the Cerate family who had moved to Virginia from Mexico.  The family’s little girl was particularly attached to Maya.  Mr. Wilbur Cerate was used to being greeted by Maya when he came home from work but one Saturday last month, the dog was not there to greet him.

Cerate checked his security camera and the video shows a van with “PETA” on the side back into his driveway. Two women got out of the van and one walked up his porch, took Maya, and put her in the back of the van.

Mr. Cerate says that three days later, the two women returned to his house with a fruit basket to tell him PETA had killed Maya.

*pauses while you go back to re-read “fruit basket”*

Mr. Cerate called the cops on their loopy asses.

Accomack County Sheriff Todd Godwin told he charged the PETA workers with larceny. He said pets are considered personal property. But the local commonwealth’s attorney told he dropped the charges because there wasn’t enough evidence to prosecute. He said the video does not show criminal intent, so he declined to take the case to court.

I didn’t go to law school but isn’t stealing a crime in and of itself, like with the “criminal intent” part automatically included?  PETA reportedly stole this family’s well loved pet, killed her, then returned to brag about it while shoving a fruit basket in their faces.  There is video evidence.  There is an admission of guilt.  The county sheriff brought charges.  But the commonwealth’s attorney can’t be bothered to do his job.

Maya’s little girl is heartbroken and her father says she no longer has any interest in school or other activities.  PETA hid when WAVY repeatedly contacted the group seeking comment.  Mr. Cerate wants to know why PETA stole and killed his family’s pet.  Tragically, the answer is that PETA operates a pet killing facility in VA and death is the outcome for almost every animal PETA takes.

Respectful letters requesting the commonwealth’s attorney pursue charges against PETA for the theft and killing of Maya can be e-mailed to

(Thank you Laura for the link.)

PETA Asks KY Shelter to Kill More Animals

McCracken Co in KY parted ways with the local humane society after a whistleblower’s testimony resulted in cruelty charges (related to heartsticking fully conscious pets and unlicensed workers killing animals) against two employees in 2011.  In June of this year, the animal shelter task force recommended re-establishing a partnership with the local HS “as long as agreement is reached to provide humane care for the animals”.  Which this “humane” would somehow be different than the previous “humane” which resulted in the cruelty charges, I guess.

Also puzzling:

Diana Cruickshank of the task force outlined the policies of the Humane Society of Lexington, which has been listed as a possible model for Paducah. […] A person in Lexington gave her data indicating that 40 percent of the 10,000 animals captured each year are euthanized[.]


That’s the model?  If a 40% kill rate is your shoot-for-the-stars aspiration, you need a new task force McCracken Co.

And just because everything is FUBAR, enter PETA:

[Judge-Executive Van] Newberry said the county has received a letter from People for the Ethical Treatment for Animals asking them to euthanize more animals – something he found shocking.

Oh hey yeah, that is weird.  Except that PETA runs a large pet killing hellhouse itself and is known both for encouraging other facilities to kill more animals and giving them frowny faces when they stop.  But I love that the county politician was all head-scratchery:

The letter said keeping animals long-term in an overcrowded shelter was more cruel than euthanizing them, but Newberry said the county shelter currently takes any animal and tries its best to keep them until they are adopted.

Warehousing animals or killing them.  These are the only two options, per PETA.  And yet, like Mr. Newberry, I can’t help but long for Door Number Three.  The one where the shelter does the job taxpayers pay for and actually shelters animals or at least “tries its best to keep them until they are adopted”.  Just like hundreds of other open admission shelters are doing all over the country.  As if it’s their job.

I don’t know what’s going to happen to the community’s lost and homeless pets in McCracken Co and I’m concerned.  But at least they didn’t fall for the It Says ETHICAL Right Here On The Letterhead shenanigans from one of the killiest animal organizations in the country.  That’s encouraging.  I hope McCracken Co applies similar common sense strategies to the sheltering issues it currently faces.

(Thanks Clarice for the links.)

What Happened to the Beagles in the 5 Year Group in the Rabies Challenge Fund?

Primer, snipped from the Rabies Challenge Fund website:

The Rabies Challenge Fund Charitable Trust will determine the duration of immunity conveyed by rabies vaccines. The goal is to extend the required interval for rabies boosters to 5 and then to 7 years.
The research began in November 2007 under the direction of Dr. Ronald Schultz and The University of Wisconsin Foundation and is now in year seven.

And the most recent news on the site, dated July 2014:

The Rabies Challenge Fund has just received the commitment from a USDA-approved facility to perform the first of the challenge phases of our 5 and 7-year studies. […]

Fees for this first challenge, slated to begin later this year, will involve 15 of the study dogs and will cost $100,000. If successful, two subsequent challenges of 15 dogs each will be conducted in order to meet the USDA rabies vaccine licensing requirements. These results, which will have been obtained using the same federal standard upon which all currently licensed rabies vaccines and rabies laws and regulations are based, should establish the scientific foundation upon which the legally required rabies booster intervals for dogs can be extended to 5 or 7 years.

My question is: What has happened to the dogs in the 5 year group, whose 5 years would seem to have expired in 2012? The study uses approximately 70 beagles, researchers’ breed of choice for vivisection. And the USDA requires that the dogs be killed at the conclusion of the study.

In 2008, the study was targeted by PETA. I have no idea why PETA would take issue with the planned killing of dogs, unless it was that the dogs weren’t being killed fast enough to satiate PETA’s blood lust. At any rate Dr. Jean Dodds, one of the researchers, responded to PETA and her response was widely circulated online. Part of her response addressed the USDA requirement that the dogs be killed and the researchers’ intention to convince the USDA to change that requirement:

Dr. Ron Schultz has undertaken informal dialog with USDA senior officials , in his capacity as advisor to the vaccine industry and regulatory body. He has decades of experience in the field and attends meetings with these folks regularly. At this point, we have not made progress in changing their views, BUT, he and I together are planning to present a more formal proposal to them. We have 4 + years to accomplish what we view as an important need to change the regulations as currently written for endpoint challenge testing — before anything involving challenge of these healthy dogs (vaccinates and controls) with rabies virus has to take place according to the current regulatory protocol.
We have the interim years to dialog with the federal authorities, based upon Dr. Schultz’s expertise, and hope to amend the CFR regulatory requirements for the end phase of their protocol.

Dr. Dodds also explained that dogs will be killed promptly and not allowed to suffer through the entire disease process once infected with rabies:

Even if we’re forced by the USDA to follow the current challenge protocol at the end of the 5 and 7 year studies, there will be no excruciating deaths among the control dogs, because at the very first evidence of malaise and illness they will be sacrificed.

After searching the RCF website and trying to find updates via Google but coming up empty, I sent out a couple of inquiries.

Sent to the Rabies Challenge Fund:

I saw the website announcement last month that a USDA approved facility had been secured in which to expose the dogs to rabies. Have the dogs in the 5 year study been waiting all this time for you to secure a facility? If not, what was their fate?
I remember several years ago the doctors involved in the study were hopeful they’d be able to convince the USDA that titers were acceptable so that no dogs would be killed in order to satisfy USDA requirements at the end of the study. Were those efforts successful? I never heard any updates.

Response: none.

Sent to Maddie’s Fund, a no kill organization which is not funding the RCF but is widely affiliated with Dr. Ron Schultz, lead researcher on the study:

Do you know if Maddie’s has issued a position statement on [the RCF] study, specifically regarding the planned killing of the dogs involved in the research? Or if Maddie’s has been encouraging Dr. Schultz to seek alternatives to killing the dogs in the rabies study?

Response, from Lynne Fridley at Maddie’s Fund:

Maddie’s Fund would encourage all researchers to find alternatives to killing animals for their studies, but we were not aware of this study until you contacted us and thus have not discussed it nor taken a position on it.

Maddie’s Fund never heard of the RCF study. Although they know about it now so perhaps they will take some action. I can’t tell based upon the brief response.

RCF isn’t answering questions apparently.

So I’m throwing this out there: Does anyone know what has happened to the beagles in the 5 year study group? Have the researchers made any progress in convincing the USDA to accept results from the study which do not require the killing of the dogs?

Please note that this is not a forum to discuss the potential benefits of the RCF study or engage in “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few” arguments in an attempt to justify killing dogs.  I am asking what has happened to the 5 year group of beagles involved in the RCF study.  I understand that possibly one or more of you might have a dog who will potentially benefit from a change in the law regarding the duration of immunity of rabies vaccines.  Your dog has you to advocate for him, as well you should, just not on this post.  The beagles forced to participate in the RCF study never got to be anyone’s dogs and have no owners advocating for them.

I don’t like secrecy and I like dog killing even less.  If you can’t own it, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it.  I want to find out the truth.

PETA Shames Medina Co for No Longer Killing Cats

Allegra, a cat at the Medina Co SPCA, judges your stupidity.

Allegra, a cat at the Medina Co SPCA, judges your stupidity.

PETA kills animals – mainly dogs and cats in need of love, temporary sheltering and new homes.  But the organization goes a step further by encouraging and rewarding (with vegan cookie gift baskets) municipalities that threaten to kill pets and shaming those that implement changes designed to eliminate needless killing.

Such is the case with Medina County, Ohio, where officials were pressured by the so-called irresponsible public into finally giving up the gas chamber which they’d been using to kill most of the cats impounded at the shelter.  The county stopped accepting cats and entered into an agreement with the Medina Co SPCA to take over cat sheltering from the county late last year.

Medina Co SPCA executive director Stephanie Moore writes:

The Medina County SPCA mission is to care and rehabilitate animals that are suffering from cruelty, abuse, neglect and abandonment. We entered an agreement with the county on December 16th 2013 to start taking in the healthy adoptable stray cat population that previously went to the county facility and were then euthanized by carbon monoxide. We entered this agreement so they would stop using the gas chamber, which they did.

We told the county that we would have to wait list cats as we do not euthanize for space here and we would need to have room before a healthy stray could enter our program. Initially we had many people bring us cats from hoarding homes and our first one was the day after Christmas with 49 cats. All of our animals must be quarantined for 10 days, spayed/neutered, vaccinated and microchipped before adoption, all of which does take time.

But in a letter to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, PETA equates the SPCA’s responsible management of cat admissions with “refusing to take in cats who are in need” and then drags out all the yawn-inducing tricks from its tired trick bag:  

  • Nobody wants to kill animals.
  • Killing is a kindness.
  • The cats who aren’t immediately accepted by the SPCA will be hit by cars, purloined by hoarders or placed in iron maidens by people “desperate” to deliver cat kindness.
  • We have to keep killing pets until EVERYONE IN THE GALAXY spays and neuters.  (Which will be never, for anyone keeping track.)

I asked Stephanie Moore for some details on the Medina Co SPCA’s managed admission program for cats.  She writes:

 We currently have a wait list of around 2 weeks. We have 11 people waiting to surrender a total of 32 cats. Sick, injured, abused, or neglected cats we will take anytime as that is our mission (even ferals if they are sick or injured). We never turn an animal away that is suffering.

We feel we are doing a tremendous job in saving the healthy stray cat population in our county and our number of cats has nearly tripled compared to the same time frame before we started this program.

Well gee, apparently homeless cats in need of sheltering in Medina Co have more options available to them than the iron maiden.  Despite the claims made in PETA’s shammy letter, cats can go to the SPCA immediately if they are in need of emergency care or they can go to the SPCA within about 2 weeks if they are healthy.  And unless they are medically hopeless and suffering, they won’t be killed – which sounds pretty damn good.  To everyone except PETA obviously.

(Thanks Casey for the link.)

The Public Rallies Around Vandalized Georgia Shelter

A brick and mortar rescue group called All About Animals in Macon, Georgia suffered a tragedy this month.  On the night of October 16, some person or persons apparently went into the no kill shelter and opened the doors on the pet cages.  When volunteers arrived at the shelter the next morning, they found forty loose dogs who had been fighting overnight – two dogs were dead, a third died shortly afterward and fifteen other dogs were injured, many severely.

Since the tragic incident, misinformation has been circulating including that the dogs were released in order to fight other dogs who were brought into the facility by the perpetrators.  An allegation that the dogs were cut is attributed to PETA.  The Macon police department has offered clarifications:

In a statement released Tuesday night, Macon police spokeswoman Jami Gaudet stated there was no evidence that dog fighting was a motive. Police do not believe any other dogs were brought to the shelter to induce the fighting.

“Investigators have found no evidence of dogs being injured by sharp objects,” Gaudet stated. “It appears that all injuries to the dogs were caused by other dogs.”

The public has rallied around the shelter:

Mary Crawford, director of the no-kill shelter, said Tuesday she’s been overwhelmed by the flood of local support. A community vigil last Sunday drew more than 100 people, including Mayor Robert Reichert, to the shelter to remember the three dogs killed — Jack, Butler and Flapjack.

Besides donations of a security system, cash, blankets, dog toys and medical supplies, All About Animals has a stack of dozens of applications from people who want to volunteer with the group.

“We’re getting support like never ever before,” Crawford said.

And there’s more, courtesy of the so-called irresponsible public:

Meanwhile, several Macon-area security companies stepped up to offer a free security system for the facility, which had no surveillance in place when the break-in happened. In addition, two people volunteered to each pay for a year of the monthly security bills.

Others helped out Friday by washing and walking the dogs, which [volunteer Carolyn] Yager said was “extremely helpful.”

Crawford said the rescue group has received at least $2,000 in cash donations, as well as offers to pay for the dogs’ medical bills and boarding. Some people have donated new locks for the facility, she said.

HSUS has given All About Animals a $2500 crisis grant to help with vet bills and renovations.

PETA, an organization opposed to no kill shelters, HSUS and the Atlanta Humane Society have each offered $5000 rewards for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for the break-in.  This money is in addition to $3000 contributed by local citizens bringing the current reward total to $18,000.

Anyone with information is asked to call Macon Regional CrimeStoppers at 877-68-CRIME.

(Thanks Clarice for sending me this story.)

“How to Make a Problem Way Worse” by the Portsmouth Humane Society Board President

Nearly four years ago, the former executive director of the Portsmouth Humane Society, Christie Chipps Peters, started a TNR program for the feral cats received at the VA shelter. The program was a success in that it saved the lives of feral cats and the staff maintained the colony created by the release of the neutered, vaccinated cats in the woods behind the shelter. The problem was that the records for each of the cats involved in the TNR program were intentionally miscategorized as “adopted” with the adopter in each case being a shelter employee. In addition, the state of Virginia does not have a law on the books that officially addresses the practice of TNR:

The law dictates that animals brought into shelters can either be adopted, returned to their owners, transferred to another agency or euthanized.

To complicate matters further, it seems as if the city, which contracts with the Portsmouth Humane Society for animal control, views the obligation to accept feral cats differently from the HS board president, Rebecca Barclay:

The city’s contract with the Portsmouth shelter remains in question. City officials believe dealing with feral cats was part of the deal.

“We’re disappointed,” City Attorney George Willson said.

Barclay contends the animal shelter was never equipped to handle feral cats and that its staff should never have accepted them.

“Because feral cats are unadoptable,” Barclay said. “They do not have the potential to become pets.”

When shelter officials worked out the contract with the city, Barclay said, it was made clear the shelter would not accept feral cats.

Willson and City Manager John Rowe could not confirm that, but noted that the shelter has been accepting them from the beginning of the five-year contract, in 2010.

It appears that the city and the HS board president have been operating under opposing assumptions for years.  And that the executive director of the HS was given free reign to address the issue as she saw fit.  When Jenn Austin took over the ED position at the shelter in February 2013, she continued the existing TNR program.

On May 31, 2013, a former Portsmouth HS employee filed a complaint with the state about the miscategorization of records for cats involved in the TNR program.  The state investigated and issued a fine:

The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has handed Portsmouth a $1,250 fine for several “critical failures to provide adequate care” at the shelter located at 4022 Seaboard Court.

In response, the city reacted in a reasonable manner:

Portsmouth City Manager John Rowe said Friday that he wasn’t aware of the shelter’s practice, but is reserving judgment on the matter. He said he plans to let the shelter and the state resolve it.

“They’re saying they’re in compliance with the law,” he said. “I’m not a judge.”

The HS board president however, claiming she was “shocked and appalled”, went Matrix on the shelter, firing the executive director, ordering the staff to stop accepting feral cats immediately and hiring a team of lawyers to defend the HS.  Amidst this kind of hysteria, PETA was bound to smell blood in the water and their spokesman inserted herself into the melee in order to promote their Yay for Killing Cats agenda.  PETA, which actively seeks out homeless cats and dogs and kills nearly every one they get their hands on, supports TNR – when it’s for deer.  But the practice they call a “humane alternative” for controlling deer populations somehow doesn’t apply to wild cats.  Cats must die.  All die!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11!!!

I hate to bring reason back into the picture here but I’m wondering if this whole issue couldn’t simply be solved by the city putting an ordinance on the books that addresses TNR.  (Virginia is a home rule state.)  Then the city could still have a place to bring its feral cats and the shelter could provide care for them while correctly categorizing the cats’ records as TNR.  The board president lady and PETA can still have their pearl-clutching tea party where they can hyperventilate to Polly Prissypants about the horror of community cats being neutered, vaccinated, and allowed to live.

In the meantime though, the Portsmouth Humane Society staff will still be allowed to maintain the colony established in the woods behind the shelter.  Recommendations on how to remove the colony without killing the cats are reportedly being sought.

(Thanks Clarice for the links.)

Transcript of Discussion about Saving Norfolk’s Pets

Thanks to OriginalWacky who sent in this transcript of the online discussion yesterday between No Kill Norfolk and Kill Everything Norfolk, aka PETA.  This was a live chat so there are the typical typos and out of order questions/responses.


From Original Wacky:

{{}} is to indicate something I’ve typed that isn’t print, like a pop-up poll, or picture. I believe you can also see the whole thing at the link, but I don’t know if that will stay up or not.


11:47 Good morning! Welcome to today’s live chat where we talk the issue of no-kill shelters in Norfolk. The chat will begin promptly at 12 p.m. Please feel free to start asking questions through this platform now. You may also tweet us your questions at @PilotNorfolk using the hashtag #nokill. Thank you for your participation. The chat will begin momentarily.

Corinne Reilly: Hello, everyone. Welcome to our chat with Debra Griggs of No-Kill Hampton Roads and Daphna Nachminovitch of PETA. We’re here to talk about animal sheltering and homelessness, the local and national no-kill movements, and the use of euthanasia in shelters. The Pilot took a look at this complex issue on Sunday. Here’s a link if you missed it:

Corinne Reilly: Please send your questions our way. In the meantime, I’ll start us off. Either or both of you can answer this one. What do you think about the term “no kill”? How is it helpful or hurtful?

Debra Griggs: Thanks for that start, Corinne. No Kill is the accepted term for communities saving 90+% of the animals. We believe that the term is clear and in communities where No Kill has been declared as the goal, we’ve seen citizens step up to support that life affirming approach.

Comment From Amber Hogg
For Debra Griggs – Do you agree that there is an overpopulation crisis with animals? I read somewhere that the no-kill movement actually thinks that overpopulation is a “myth.” What is your position?

Daphna Nachminovitch: The term is dangerously divisive. Tragically animal shelters are forced to euthanize animals whom no one wants when those are unadoptable or just not adopted, for whatever reason. If a limited-admission shelter is “no-kill,” what is an open-door shelter to be? This term has led to more divisiveness and hostility between animal shelters, without helping any animals.

Comment From Amber Hogg
For Daphna Nachminovitch – What is PETA doing to help our community end euthanasia one day?

Debra Griggs: A recent study by Maddies Fund reports that approximately 17 million people will adopt an animal this year but they have not decided from where they will get the animal. 3.5-4 million dogs and cats are killed in shelters. We say there is “marketing” problem, not an “overpopulation problem.

Daphna Nachminovitch: PETA is on the front lines every day, helping individual animals as well as tackling the b ig picture of animal homelessness. We operate three mobile spay/neuter units that sterilize animals for free or low-cost. We have spayed and neutered more than 95,000 (!) animals in the last 12 years, saving countless lives. We also promote adoption through celebrity ads and our own work, and work with people across the nation to get animals adopted, pet stores and breeders out of business, and open-admission policies supported by the public.

Comment From JR
This question is for Debra Griggs: Do you think that it is humane to keep a dog or a cat caged for several years in hopes that the animal finds a home? How long becomes too long? Don’t animals go kennel crazy just as people would in solitary confinement?

Comment From JR
This question is for Daphna Nachminovitch: I’ve heard that the “no-kill” movement is responsible for the increase in hoarding cases nationwide. Is that true and how widespread is this problem?

Corinne Reilly: We’ve got a lot of great questions in our queue. Thanks everyone.

12:07 {{picture posted of tem leader Irv Harrell and reporter Corinne Riley during chat}}

Debra Griggs: JR, keeping an animal “caged” without stimulation is cruel. We do not support that. Keeping an animal in a shelter where it is loved, cared for and offered socialization is entirely different. We believe animals have a right to life and a right to be cared for appropriately until a “forever” home is found for them.

Comment From Harmony12
For Debra Griggs: Do you think it should be legal for people to release feral cats onto private property without the permission of the property owner?

Daphna Nachminovitch: Thanks JR. It is very, very true. It is now estimated that at least 25% of the 6000 animal hoarding cases reported in the US annually are so-called “rescues.” This is a widespread problem largely due to pressure from proponents of “life at any cost” on open-admission shelters to release animals to anyone with a pulse. Check out our Caboodle Ranch investigation, Angel’s Gate investigation, and “Sacred Vision Animal Sanctuary” investigation on You will see that there are fates far worse than a humane death.

Comment From cats_cats_cats
This is for Daphna Nachminovitch – How do you reply to folks who say they’ll only buy from a “responsible” breeder? – Thanks!

Comment From Anne
Debra: I once volunteered at a “no-kill” cat shelter. It was always crowded, so we often had to turn animals away. What do you think facilities should do when they are full?

Debra Griggs: Harmony12, thanks for that question. We believe that with community education, this will become far less of an issue. In our experience, when a property owner is approached and educated that if the cats are merely removed (and likely killed at a shelter), other cats will move in, the property owner embraces TNR as a humane approach to reducing the free roaming cat population.

Daphna Nachminovitch: The reality is that there is no such thing as a responsible breeder in a day and age where animals in shelters are literally dying for homes. No one should be allowed to “make” more animals while perfectly wonderful, healthy animals flood our nation’s shelters. Responsible people don’t breed or buy. They adopt. Please always adopt, never buy.

Comment From Damifino
Daphna-In a recent article on HufPo Ingrid Newkirk claimed that you operate a shelter with regular adoption hours. Where can we find out what those hours are and what are your adoption policies?

Daphna Nachminovitch: Our shelter is located at 501 Front ST., the Sam Simon Center, and it is open during regular office hours (9-5:30) though we are always happy to make arrangements to meet people after-hours and on weekends if that’s what’s best for an animal. People who wish to adopt should email us at for available animals or can call 757 622 7382 and ask. We have several dogs for adoption at the moment. Adoption policies are available if you email us (time is limited so bear with me) but generally, spay/neuter/microchip before release, $75 adoption fee, application, contract and home visit required. If you are looking to adopt please email us!

Debra Griggs: Thanks Anne – that is a wonderful inquiry! There are a number of things a shelter can do but, again, this is a community issue, not a single shelter issue. Shelters must engage the public and if done in a robust way, citizens step up to help. Rescue groups are another critical resource. And, very importantly, shelters must partner with other shelters to support one another. Partnerships with other shelters, rescue groups, and most importantly – citizens – make No Kill work!

Comment From Guest
Daphna: Have all the animals whose lives were ended by PETA been suffering so much that they had to be euthanized or so vicious that they could not be rehabilitated? If not, why were their lives ended?

Comment From Tiffany
For Ms. Griggs: How does the “no-kill” movement handle the animals that are not as easy to place in homes because they need more specialized care , like rabbits (the 3rd most commonly abandoned animal), guinea pigs, parrots, and the so-called “pocket pets” like sugar gliders and hamsters)?

{{small poll pop-up:
What is your stance on how to deal with shelter animals?
* agree with PETA: Euthanasia is often the most humane way
* I agree with No-Kill Hampton Roads: Euthanasia is almost never the answer.
* I’m somewhere in the middle of the two groups
* Not sure}}

Tracey Finch@TraceyFinch3RT @peta: Does “No-Kill” mean “No Help” for animals? Live debate w/ PETA’s Senior VP happening NOW! Join the conversation:…

Debra Griggs: Tiffany, while the focus of No Kill Hampton Roads is on dogs and cats, there is a wonderful network of specialized rescue groups that serve the animals you have named. We support life affirming approaches for all animals.

Comment From K
Debra: will you address JR’s question Comment From JR This question is for Daphna Nachminovitch: I’ve heard that the “no-kill” movement is responsible for the increase in hoarding cases nationwide. Is that true and how widespread is this problem?

Daphna Nachminovitch: Thank you Guest – Most of the animals we euthanize have health and/or behavioral issues, indeed. This is not a surprise since we primarily serve animals who have been deemed unadoptable by other shelters and turned away due to limited-admission policies, who have been deprived of everything that’s natural to them and that they need for years and kept chained and isolated, are feral, injured, or terminally ill. You may be surprised to learn that many open-admission shelters actually have to euthanize animals with less problems than the animals we see – because of the sheer volume of animals that come through their open doors every single day. The solution lies in prevention – focusing on the root of the problem, i.e., BIRTHS.

Comment From Tiffany
For Daphna: Are there any low-cost spay and neuter programs in Hampton Roads?

Debra Griggs: K, hoarding is an illness completely separate from No Kill initiatives. No Kill does not equal hoarding, nor does No Kill promote hoarding.

Comment From Guest
Debra, can you give examples on how no kill shelters deal with high intake rather than killing the animals what do they do?

Corinne Reilly: To see the adoption and euthanasia rate for any shelter in Virginia, go to this state website:

Daphna Nachminovitch: Excellent question Tiffany, thank you. YES! PETA offers free and low-cost spay/neuter services as do some of our other area open-door shelters, like the Virginia Beach SPCA. PETA never ever turns away a client for lack of funds. We will work with you. We operate 6-7 days every week and we go into disadvantaged areas, from Eastern Shore to Emporia. Please help us spread the word about spaying and neutering. It’s easy to get it done. PETA even helps with door-to-door transport for qualifying people who have fallen on hard times. Spaying and neutering is the single most important thing to do if you want to end euthanasia. Spay or neuter!

Comment From Amanda
Daphna Nachminovitch: Why is it that some dogs at the VBSPCA are transferd from PETA?

Daphna Nachminovitch: Thank you Amanda. Our partners at the Virginia Beach SPCA have a gorgeous state of the art shelter with tons of foot traffic and a phenomenal adoption rate, so for the adoptable animals we take in, the SPCA is a wonderful option. PETA helps subsidize medical care for the animals we bring to the SPCA so as not to drain their resources, of course. For example, in the last month we have paid for heartworm treatment for five heartworm positive dogs transferred to the SPCA. We greatly value our life-saving partnership with the open-door Virginia Beach SPCA. Many animals who would have otherwise had little chance of adoption have found forever homes thanks to this collaboration.

Comment From Tiffany
For Daphna: What happens to animals when they are turned away from no-kill facilities that are full? Where do they end up?

Corinne Reilly: Thanks for all the great questions, everyone. Both Debra and Daphna are typing away!

Debra Griggs: Guest, No Kill shelters understand that marketing is the key to finding great homes for animals. Portsmouth Humane Society launched a new foster to adopt program that is ingenious and that is just one example. No Kill shelters are constantly developing programs that engage the public and they start with the basic premise that every animal deserves a home – from that perspective, amazing ideas flow!

Comment From Steven K.
For Debra- What is your position on placing dogs who have been deemed dangerous or have bitten people and/or attacked/killed other animals. Do you think such dogs can safely be placed or would you agree that euthanasia is a humane option in such situations?

Comment From nadezhda
I would like to add that Spay HR and the Norfolk SPCA offer low cost spay and neutering services. Also, the Norfolk SPCA offers services for feral cats. I have used all three places (including PeTA) in my TNR work.

Daphna Nachminovitch: Sad and good question Tiffany. Animals turned away from shelters often face a gruesome fate. Some have been intentionally killed (run over, tied to train tracks, shot) or abandoned (even in the shelter parking lot!). Some end up given away indiscriminately in dollar store parking lot or “set free” in the country. It is not unusual for PETA to get calls from Hampton Roads residents who have been turned away by the Norfolk SPCA or other shelters that practice closed-door policies in order to manipulate their euthanasia rates. That’s why PETA vigorously opposes appointment systems, admission fees, waiting lists, and other mechanisms designed to keep animals–even those in danger or suffering–out of shelters. Shelters should be safe havens for animals, not send them away and just hope for the best.

Comment From Eileen
Daphna Nachminovitch Why does PETA support the killing of all pitbulls? That to me is very very wrong to single out a particular breed.

Debra Griggs: Steven, a generalized answer to that question is inadequate. Every dog must be evaluated and if resources are needed to rehabilitate a dog for a particular stimulus then they must be provided. There are sooooo many incidences where dogs have been provoked and unfairly blamed for an incident and it is dangerous to lump all dogs together assuming that one “solution” is appropriate.

Comment From Melissa
Debra – can you please give us some examples of “open-admission” shelters that are No Kill?

Comment From Eileen
Debra – I read that there are now over 130 communities in the US that are open admission and No Kill (Richmond being one) – Do you know if this is correct?

Daphna Nachminovitch: Thanks Eileen. You have been misinformed! Have a look at our web site for details, but in fact we do more work for pit bulls than any other breed of dog. Hands down the most abused breed on the planet, they are most frequently the recipients of our hands-on services, from spaying and neutering and door-to-door transport to doghouses and straw in winter, toys, and other care. We advocate a mandatory spay/neuter law for pit bulls, and we don’t oppose breed-specific measures to keep them safe (since they are the most common breed in animal shelters today and are undeniably tricky to place), but we have always advocated a grandfather clause for pit bulls who are kept inside as part of the family, spayed/neutered, and well cared for. By the way one of the dogs we currently have for adoption is a tall lanky pit bull mix puppy. If you know anyone who would offer her a first class home, please email us at Thanks Eileen.

Comment From Will
Daphna: do you think that the current shelter system in Norfolk is working? It seems like no-kill is a progressive sheltering option.

Debra Griggs: Melissa and Eileen, I will answer you folks together since there is a similarity to your questions. Actually, Eileen, I believe the number of No Kill communities is greater. The last time I checked it was closer to 200. Melissa, here are a few: Amelia, Charlottesville, Arlington, King George, Powhatan, Lynchburg, Orange County and, of course, Portsmouth. Note that in some communities, No Kill is achieved by a partnership between the public and private shelter – examples of those communities are Richmond, Fluvanna, and Nelson County.

Comment From Kelsey S.
To Debra: How do you plan on “marketing” to the public in an effective way that finds good quality homes for animals? Isn’t quality better than quantity if the alternative is abuse?

Comment From Guest
Debra & Daphna: Congratulations on getting animal issues on the front page! I’d love to see both sides work together on improving the lives of animals rather than shutting each other down. (I love you both!) Do you think you will ever be able to come together on this?

Daphna Nachminovitch: Thank you Will. There is always room for improvement, no doubt, and for collaboration between entities. There are ways everyone can work together toward lowering intake–and therefore euthanasia–rates, without leaving animals in danger. The Norfolk city shelter has turned around significantly since the disastrous conditions of 2007, which were due to relentless pressure on the city to simply stop euthanizing animals without putting in measures to address the source of the problem – our own community. Progressive policies are vital no doubt, but they must treat animals as individuals, not numbers, and carefully consider what is best for each and every one. PETA’ s focus is prevention – a “no-birth” community where no animals are born into homelessness. The way to achieve that is education, legislation, and sterilization!

Debra Griggs: Kelsey, the basic premise of the No Kill movement is that most people are good. If you start with that belief, the world does truly open up for possibilities for homes for dogs and cats. For decades, we have made it so hard to adopt an animal from a shelter, only to euthanize the animal. That is so backwards when you consider the damage we have done to the animals and the negative experience too many folks have had at a shelter. No Kill communities trust their citizens and we should do the same in Hampton Roads. It means more animals live!

Corinne Reilly: I’ve gotten a number of emails from readers since the story was published asking how to get in touch with No-Kill Hampton Roads. Here is their website:

Daphna Nachminovitch: Hi Guest – love you too :) whoever you are. Debra and I are working together on the city’s animal advisory board, and I am going to corner Debra into going in the field with me very soon so that we can work together even closer. We all want the same thing – an end to animal homelessness, and I speak just for me of course but feel confident that we can all find common ground for the benefit of the animals and our community.

Debra Griggs: Guest, I hope we can! No Kill Hampton Roads is committed to inclusiveness and we welcome the opportunity to work with all organizations and people who support our work. We are grateful for the spay/neuter services that PETA provides to the community and on the issue of spay/neuter, I think I can say we are in total agreement!

Comment From Robin
To Daphna: PETA’s 90% kill rate has to be unacceptable to all, no matter how one feels about the no-kill question. What is PETA doing to increase their “live” rate?

Comment From Amanda
Derba Griggs: What happens if a shelter is full, and some one comes with a pet to give up? Do you deny the pet, or do you euthanasia a dog/cat to make room for as new pet?

Comment From Guest
There is a huge online community that continually shares photos and information about animals up for adoption – all defined by shelter, city and state. We all just hit “share” and every day there are so many that are saved. Even urgent and special needs animals. Excellent networking going on out there to keep these animals from being killed.

12:50 {{picture posted of Debra Griggs answering questions during chat}}

Daphna Nachminovitch: Hi Robin – Thank you. Numbers alone never tell the real story. I promise you that if you saw the animals we serve, percentages would become meaningless. Each animal deserves to be considered as an individual. PETA is out there on the front so that we and all other shelters in Hampton Roads and beyond have LESS animals to deal with. Imagine how many MORE animals Hampton Roads shelters would have to serve if PETA hadn’t sterilized 95,000 plus so far? That’s why we sink resources into prevention.

Comment From Rose
Why does PETA never partipate or hold adopt-a-thons?

Debra Griggs: Amanda, every situation is different. One seasoned shelter director told this story. The practice in her shelter, when someone wanted to relinquish an animal, was to simply take it. No questions asked. And, yes, if there was no space, an animal was killed to make room She began to consider the No Kill approach and one day when a woman came to surrender her cat, the shelter director tried something new. The shelter director told the woman that if they took the cat, another cat would have to be killed but if the woman would wait a couple of weeks, they would have space and no animal would be killed. The woman said, no problem, she wasn’t moving into the assisted living (where no pets were allowed) for a month; she’d be glad to wait. And, wait she did. It changed that shelter director’s approach forever. If given a chance, most people will do the right thing. That is what progressive shelters believe!

Comment From David
For Debra: why are appointments for owners turning animals into a shelter a good idea?

Daphna Nachminovitch: Hi Rose – we have held our own actually, in the PETA parking lot and dog park, after Katrina, the oil spill, and other occasions – and we would be more than happy to participate in others if/when the opportunity arises. Adopt-a-thons are a great way to find homes for a few animals, but we can’t adopt our way out of the overpopulation and homelessness crisis. We have to get in front of it with prevention, which is something we do every single day. Spay or neuter!

Debra Griggs: David, thank you for that question. We believe they are good for a number of reasons. It gives the shelter staff an opportunity to spend time with the owner who is surrendering and the animal being surrendered which helps the staff be well informed about choosing a potential new home for the animal. What often happens, however, is that during those appointments, staff discovers the reason for surrender is “fixable” and support can be given to the owner to keep the animal which is a win, win, win.

Corinne Reilly: We’re about to wrap up. Thanks to everyone who participated today, especially Debra and Daphna. What would each of you like to say in closing?

Debra Griggs: Thanks to the Virginian Pilot for this opportunity to speak on behalf of No Kill Hampton Roads and our mission to end the killing of healthy, treatable animals in our shelters. We believe Hampton Roads citizens are compassionate and, if given the chance, will step up to help make this a reality!

Corinne Reilly: Sorry we weren’t able to get to all of the questions today. We got lots!
For more info on No-Kill Hampton Roads:
And for more info on PETA:

Daphna Nachminovitch: Thank you to everyone who participated in this online chat, and a BIG thank you to the Virginian Pilot and Corinne Reilly for opening the door for discussion. If people are upset about animal homelessness and euthanasia, as we ALL should be, then they can help. Step up. Never, ever buy an animal from a breeder or pet shop. When you buy, animals die. It really is that simple. It’s math. Always spay/neuter – it’s cheap, it’s easy, it’s best for your animal, and it saves lives. If your animal is sterilized, help your neighbor with theirs. Volunteer at a local shelter, make a difference. Remember that shelter did not create this crisis. We as a society did. So the least we owe animals who are unwanted, discarded, abused, neglected, forgotten, lost, and so on, if adoption is not a feasible option for them, is freedom from suffering. No one wants to have to euthanize any animals, most of all the people who have dedicated their lives to helping them. So if you care, roll up your sleeves and come help us make the world a safer, kinder place for animals. You can make a difference.


What is your stance on how to deal with shelter animals?
agree with PETA: Euthanasia is often the most humane way
( 41% )
I agree with No-Kill Hampton Roads: Euthanasia is almost never the answer.
( 48% )
I’m somewhere in the middle of the two groups
( 10% )
Not sure
( 0% )


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