Ingrid E. Newkirk is the cofounder and president of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, the largest animal rights organization in the world. She has spoken internationally on animal rights issues, from the steps of the Canadian Parliament to the streets of New Delhi, India, where she spent her childhood.
She wrote: ” …one book changed my life, and that is Animal Liberation . I had grown up appalled by cruelty to animals and firmly believed in treating animals kindly, but I still thought it was OK to use them, meaning give them big cages, for example, and, if they “have” to be killed, killing them as painlessly as possible. When I read Animal Liberation, I realized that in my heart I believed something far deeper than that. I believed what Dr. Singer advocated—that we needed a radical new approach, a new way of viewing animals. Instead of seeing all the other species on Earth as ours to convert into hamburgers, handbags, living burglar alarms, amusements, test tubes with whiskers, and so on, we need to respect them as fellow beings, as other individuals and families and tribes who have the same basic interests in experiencing joy and love and living without needless pain and harassment as we do. Dr. Singer’s logic was impeccable: If we care about animals, shouldn’t we care enough about them to leave them in peace? Animal Liberation, more than anything else, gave me the impetus to start PETA.
Peta has challenged the way we see animals, has exposed the truth out from the secrecy of the research centers, the corporate farms, the fashion industry and has pioneered a brutal awareness of animal suffering and exploitation like no other organization. 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 changed the way we saw animals and raised an awareness of their suffering like no organization before. 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 in laboratories. And they haven’t stopped fighting—and winning—in their efforts for animals. Today People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA),founded in 1980, is one the largest animal rights organization in the world, with more than 2 million members and supporters.
PETA focuses its attention on the four areas in which the largest numbers of animals suffer the most intensely for the longest periods of time: on factory farms, in the clothing trade, in laboratories, and in the entertainment industry. We also work on a variety of other issues, including the cruel killing of beavers, birds, and other “pests” as well as cruelty to domesticated animals.
PETA works through public education, courageous cruelty investigations, research, animal rescue, legislation, special events, celebrity involvement, and protest campaigns. Contact http://www.peta.org/