PETA’s provocative advertising fails to focus on animal rights

April is Animal Cruelty Awareness month, and the charities that focus on the prevention of that issue range from all-encompassing organizations such as the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals to more focused groups like Bat Conservation International.

Animal cruelty prevention groups share a few core sentiments. ASPCA states on their website that we must “recognize the cruelty that threatens them,” and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals similarly points out that “we can’t stop animals’ suffering if we simply look the other way and pretend it isn’t happening.”

PETA is an non-profit based in Norfolk dedicated to animal rights activism, and though they do collect a significant amount in donations from their supporters and received $43.53 million in contributions in 2015, they also receive a fair amount of criticism. Anti-PETA groups such as PETA Kills Animals cite the organization’s excessive usage of euthanasia as their biggest fault, as The Virginia Department of Agriculture reported that out of the 1,974 animals PETA received in 2015, 1,456 were euthanized.

Beyond their excessive use of euthanasia, PETA overuses offensive ad campaigns. In 2004, PETA launched a Holocaust on Your Plate display which horrifyingly paired images of animals in slaughterhouses with images taken in Nazi concentration camps. The European Court of Human Rights banned PETA from using the images in 2009, but PETA did not publish an apology of any kind, and instead offered a blog post defending their right to free speech, making no point about the animals the ad was meant to defend.

PETA’s desire to spark conversation through controversy is ineffective, and doesn’t help animals in poor conditions.