Before PETA existed, there were two important things that you could do if you wanted to help animals. You could volunteer at a local animal shelter, or you could donate money to a humane society. While many of these organizations did useful work to bring comfort to animals who are used by humans, they didn't question why we kill animals for their flesh or their skins or why we use them for tests of new product ingredients or for our entertainment.
PETA's founders sought to give caring people something more that they could do and to provide them ways to actively change society. They wanted to promote a healthy vegan diet and show how easy it is to shop cruelty-free. They wanted to protest, loudly and publicly, against cruelty to animals in all its forms, and they wanted to expose what really went on behind the very thick, soundproof walls of animal laboratories.
Aided by thorough investigative work, consumer protests, and international media coverage, PETA brings together members of the scientific, corporate, and legislative communities to achieve large-scale, long-term changes that improve animals' quality of life and prevent their deaths.
PETA's first case—the precedent-setting 1981 Silver Spring monkeys case—resulted in the first arrest and criminal conviction of an animal experimenter in the U.S. on charges of cruelty to animals, the first confiscation of abused laboratory animals, and the first U.S. Supreme Court victory for animals inlaboratories. And we haven't stopped fighting—and winning—in our efforts for animals since.
Historic CasesEvery year, with the help of generous supporters, PETA is able to secure victories for animals. And every victory is important and celebrated, from the smallest mouse spared a horrific death in a glue trap to the thousands of cows, pigs, chickens, and fish whose lives are saved every time someone goes vegetarian.
The following are just a few of PETA's major accomplishments for animals:
Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. Many of us bought our beloved “pets” at pet shops, had guinea pigs, and kept beautiful birds in cages. We wore wool and silk, ate McDonald’s burgers, and fished. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?
Supporters of animal rights believe that animals have an inherent worth—a value completely separate from their usefulness to humans. We believe that every creature with a will to live has a right to live free from pain and suffering. Animal rights is not just a philosophy—it is a social movement that challenges society’s traditional view that all nonhuman animals exist solely for human use. As PETA founder Ingrid Newkirk has said, “When it comes to pain, love, joy, loneliness, and fear, a rat is a pig is a dog is a boy. Each one values his or her life and fights the knife.”
Only prejudice allows us to deny others the rights that we expect to have for ourselves. Whether it’s based on race, gender, sexual orientation, or species, prejudice is morally unacceptable. If you wouldn’t eat a dog, why eat a pig? Dogs and pigs have the same capacity to feel pain, but it is prejudice based on species that allows us to think of one animal as a companion and the other as dinner.
Success StoriesPETA has made groundbreaking advances for animals who are abused by corporations, governments, and individuals throughout the world, and these successes have led to dramatic improvements in the lives of millions of individual animals.
Whether by working with universities and government institutions to implement non-animal test methods, sparking a boom of "cruelty-free" product marketing and a nosedive for the U.S. fur industry, or promoting the mass availability of meat alternatives at grocery stores and gourmet restaurants, PETA has been the driving force behind many of the largest successes for animals in the last 25 years
Wherever animals are in need, PETA is there, giving a strong voice to those who can't speak for themselves—a voice for the billions of chickens trapped on factory farms, a voice for the mice and rats tortured in labs and unprotected by even a single federal law, a voice for the millions of chinchillas who live in misery and suffer horrific deaths, a voice for baby elephants stolen from their mothers and beaten to perform, and a voice for "backyard dogs," sentenced to life outdoors at the end of a chain, forgotten and alone. We see the forest and the trees, and we work wherever we can to eliminate suffering.
Our methods are as varied as the animals we protect and the myriad ways that people abuse them. The following are a few examples:
Every day in countries around the world, animals are fighting for their lives. They are enslaved, beaten, and kept in chains to make them perform for humans' "entertainment"; they are mutilated and confined to tiny cages so that we can kill them and eat them; they are burned, blinded, poisoned, and cut up alive in the name of "science"; they are electrocuted, strangled, and skinned alive so that people can parade around in their coats; and worse.
The abuse that animals suffer at human hands is heartbreaking, sickening, and infuriating. It's even more so when we realize that the everyday choices we make—such as what we eat for lunch and the kind of shampoo we buy—may be directly supporting some of this abuse. But as hard as it is to think about, we can't stop animals' suffering if we simply look the other way and pretend it isn't happening.
Animals are counting on compassionate people like you to give them a voice and be their heroes by learning about the issues they face and taking action. Each of us has the power to save animals from nightmarish suffering-and best of all, it's easier than you might think. If you're ready to join the millions of other compassionate people who are working to create a kinder, better world for animals, please read on to learn how animals suffer in the food, animal experimentation, entertainment, clothing and pet-trade industries. Together, we can make a difference.