PETA Should Back off Harassing Children

PETA demonstrators try to make their point in front of Staples Center in Los Angeles./Dennis J. Freeman/

By Dennis J. Freeman

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) are hypocrites of their own message. PETA, known for their sometimes controversial ways of getting people’s attention on the issue of abused animals, talk out of one side of their mouths, and produce action contrary to what they say.

PETA was front and center when NFL star Michael Vick was convicted and went to prison on dogfighting charges. Heck, PETA didn’t think Vick, last year’s NFL’s Comeback Player of the Year, deserved a second chance to make a living on the football field. It was PETA that led the way in vilifying the star quarterback and tried to block his entrance back into the NFL.

Yet, PETA is the same organization that put down and killed 2,200 of the 2,345 animals it took in last year, according to the website PETA Kills Animals. In 2009, PETA put to rest 2,301 of the 2,366 dogs and cats it took in.

Unfortunately, the bloodshed doesn’t stop there. From 1998 to 2010, PETA has killed 25,840 of the 29,823 of the pets it received.  During that time span, PETA only adopted 3, 135 pets, according to PETA Kills Animals. A couple of years ago, two PETA employees were even brought up on felony animal cruelty charges.

 I thought about this double standard when angry PETA demonstrators lined up in front of several entrances of the Staples Center in Los Angeles with their homemade pickets and signs, trying to discourage parents from taking their kids to see the famed Ringling Bros. Barnum and Bailey Circus.

I thought about the $33 million PETA rakes in annually in donor contributions as protesters feverishly denounced Ringling Bros. Barnum and Bailey Circus and its treatment of elephants.  What stuck in my mind was how parents with young children were being verbally harassed and intimidated by the protesters and being afraid to walk by the throng of demonstrators as L.A.’s finest stood around to keep chaos and all out munity from breaking out. 

A PETA protester goes after Ringling Bros. Barnum and Bailey Circus./Dennis J. Freeman/

 What was upsetting to me was how PETA flunkies were working their way to pass on their wacked out propaganda to young children, parents notwithstanding. Look, PETA has done some good in this world. Sometimes their claims are warranted and justified.

Sometimes they get it right when it comes to fighting on behalf of abused animals. But there are times that PETA and its radical band of mates get it all wrong.

They get it wrong when they try to intimidate young children in order to get their message across.  And they do it without any regards to the mindset of a child they’re trying to get in the face of when they physically confront them and tell the child their actions are wrong for supporting events like the circus.

This is what happened to my seven-year-old daughter when I took my family to see the Ringling Bros. Barnum and Bailey Circus.  As I straggled slightly behind my family, taking photos of PETA protesters, my wife had the unfortunate luck of having to deal with an unruly and combative woman who tried to shoved anti-circus material to my daughter.

 On top of that the woman went as far as getting in my daughter’s face and telling her she should go to the circus. My wife, of course, was beyond being mortified by this protester’s behavior and called her out for jumping into our daughter’s face and trying to shove protest materials into her hands.

Education is one way for children to learn about the importance of the treatment of animals. Forced intimidation and coerced is a different matter altogether. It is simply not the correct way to go to get people on your side. It is particularly appalling when those tactics are being used to influence the minds of young children.

PETA would be better served to use the nearly $20 million it uses for outreach and grassroots campaigns to actually saving animals, instead of talking about it.



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