Editor's Note: PETA got back with us and we've updated our post with new information, clarifications and corrections.
Got Autism? PETA has answers for you. Well, if you like your medical advice to be lacking
scientific validity definitive scientific proof, that is.
You see, back in 2008, while PETA was off busying themselves with compiling violent slaughterhouse videos
and purchasing Costco-sized containers of red paint for dousing people in fur, they were also meddling in the field of "championing" for autism awareness. Update: For the life of us, we can't figure out if PETA or its employees have ever thrown paint or red dye or claimed credit for doing so or if it's all an urban myth.
They came up with an ill-fated campaign called "Got Autism" that claimed to show a link between dairy intake and the diagnosis of autism. The campaign, an obvious riff on the old "Got Milk?" campaign, was slapped along with a bowl of frowning Cheerios soaking in a bowl of milk, and heaved onto a billboard in New Jersey for all to see.
It didn't last long, though. The "Got Autism" billboard was only a thing for a short period of time before critics called for its removal. The advertising company hosting the billboard complied and pulled the campaign down, much to the chagrin of the folks at PETA. And there it stayed, buried under the blanket of the controversial campaigns that followed.
Until now, anyway. It seems that the old "Got Autism" campaign is making the rounds -- and headlines -- yet again. And with the new rounds of reporting on this old campaign come the voices of the critics. Outraged autism advocates have much to say on the subject, stating that PETA cites scientific studies as the basis for these claims, it is the validity of the scientific studies -- and the entire campaign message -- that are suspect.
The evidence that PETA cites as the basis of this message are two small, outdated scientific studies -- one that took place in 2002, the other in 1995 -- neither of which had more than 36 subjects. And neither showed a definitive link between dairy and autism.
Rather, one of the studies observed a "possible improvement" to autism symptoms after some of the children in the study -- which was not double-blind, mind you, so the researchers could identify the two groups -- were put on a diet free of gluten, gliadin and casein. The other study detected no link between dairy products and autism, other than the antibodies to dairy that they found in the blood of children with autism. Hardly solid scientific facts, but it is PETA, after all.
Even if it's not surprising, PETA using autism to further its agenda is troubling and deceptive. Also quite troubling? PETA's euthanasia statistics. Think PETA's No Kill? No way. The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services requires groups in Virginia, where PETA's headquarters and shelter are located, to submit records for yearly reviews. According to those documents, the numbers of animals that PETA euthanizes are staggering. Let's take a look.
Since 1998, PETA has killed more than 30,000 animals. It's a common misnomer that PETA considers any killing of animals to be murder. While they do consider killing animals for food or fashion to be murder, they're actually quite fine with the idea of euthanasia. They believe in full animal liberation, which means that having companion animals -- or pets, in layman's terms -- is a form of abuse as well. Animals should be free of human use, whatever the cost. Their focus is not on re-homing animals, but on zero live births instead. Update: PETA says it has never said having companion animals is a form of abuse. On its website it does list abuses which it says can occur in the lives of companion animals (chained dogs, caged birds, declawing cats). It also states:
We at PETA very much love the animal companions who share our homes, but we believe that it would have been in the animals' best interests if the institution of "pet keeping"--i.e., breeding animals to be kept and regarded as "pets"--never existed.
Read more: http://www.peta.org/about-peta/why-peta/pets/#ixzz33sWbWntd
PETA's death rate is around five animals per day. These are not just sick or aggressive animals, either. According to testimony from a court case against the group, in which PETA employees were charged with the illegal dumping of animal bodies in North Carolina, many of the animals that PETA euthanizes are "perfect" and adorable. According to examiner.com,
two employees admitted their guilt but were acquitted of the most serious charges, and instead were found guilty of littering. Update: According to PETA the two employees pleaded "not guilty" to the animal cruelty charges, were convicted of littering and the littering verdict was later overturned.
In 2013, PETA euthanized 2,000 animals, or 82 percent of the animals in the shelter at their headquarters in Norfolk, VA. Think that's bad? It's actually better than the previous years. Read on...
In 2012, that rate was at 89 percent. 1,843 animals were taken by the group. 19 were adopted. 130 were transferred. 1,647 were killed.
In 2011, out of the 1,991 animals taken in by PETA, 1,911 were euthanized.
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A 2010 inspection by VDACS found that 84 percent of the animals that PETA took in were euthanized within 24 hours. There's not much to add about this one. It's just really heinous for any group, but it's especially heinous when this group claims to be the voice for animals.
And those statistics are not due to a lack of budget or manpower, either. PETA has a budget of more than $30 million, and plenty of manpower and celebrity support. Perhaps most of it is going to mindless campaigns, or perhaps they just have other priorities in mind.
After all, PETA President Ingrid Newkirk addressed the controversy in a statement to The Virginia-Pilot, stating that "[they] could become a no-kill shelter immediately. It means [they] wouldn't do as much work."
We reached out to PETA for a statement on their euthanasia statistics, but have yet to hear back. Update: We heard back.