Two employees of the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals are now on trial in a high-profile case. (Earlier post here.) They are accused of tossing garbage bags full of euthanized cats and dogs into a Dumpster behind a Piggly Wiggly in Hertford County, North Carolina.
Adria J. Hinkle and Andrew B. Cook, both of whom work in PETA's Norfolk office, are charged with 21 counts each of animal cruelty, a felony that can carry prison time, along with littering and obtaining property by false pretenses.
It is a strange turn of events for PETA. The group's supporters have often been prosecuted for their radical efforts to protect animals -- breaking into fashion shows to throw blood on fur-wearing models, liberating lab animals, showing gory videos outside the circus -- but PETA has never been accused of hurting animals. . . .
A PETA spokeswoman, Kathy Guillermo, said PETA never wanted to get into the business of euthanizing animals. But she said the group couldn't ignore the horrible conditions in animal shelters around Norfolk and in northeastern North Carolina. The group now euthanizes thousands of animals a year.
"Euthanasia is a better alternative to sitting in a stinking pound," Guillermo said.
PETA opponents are drawing attention to this little-known facet of the group's work.
On Monday morning, the Washington D.C.-based Center for Consumer Freedom, an anti-PETA group funded by restaurants and meat producers, drove a mobile billboard truck reading "PETA: As Warm and Cuddly as You Thought?" past the courthouse.
I wonder how PETA will try to spin this in their fund-raising. Lawyer David Hardy thinks that charging them with fraud would be better.
After all, Hinkle and Cook pretended to be adopting the dogs and cats before they killed them.
Their opponents are watching the trial closely.