PETA is usually the one accusing others of animal cruelty. Not anymore. Though the group is well known for loudly objecting to things like goldfish racing and backpacks made from fur, it is now drawing attention for a very different reason: its animal shelter kills around 2,000 dogs and cats a year, while only adopting out a handful (19 last year, 24 the year before), the New York Times reports. "No-kill" shelters are now increasingly common amongst animal welfare groups. In 2003, 31,701 dogs and cats were euthanized in New York alone. Last year, the figure was down to 8,252. But PETA didn't get the memo.
PETA says the animals it takes in are often too far gone to be saved. "It’s nice for people who’ve never worked in a shelter to have this idealistic view that every animal can be saved," says a spokesperson. "They don’t see what awful physical and emotional pain these poor dogs and cats suffer." But no-kill advocates disagree. The director of shelter medicine at the University of California, Davis, says she used to think that euthanasia was often the most humane option, but has now found that shelters offering better care to animals can lower disease and increase adoption numbers. She also says it isn't just a choice between adoption or death—some shelters take in stray cats, spay or neuter and vaccinate them, and then release them back. "The pieces for no-kill are in place," she says. "We just need to spread the word and make sure shelters have the resources and know-how."