Even an ugly baby can be named Tiffany

Published 12:00 am Monday, June 20, 2005

The story about People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals dumping freshly-killed dog carcasses in dumpsters in Ahoskie, N.C.

got wide attention last week.

Cal Bryant, the managing editor of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald in Ahoskie, a sister newspaper of ours, was all over the story and was kind enough to send us photos and his report on the investigation and arrests.

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We published the story in our Friday paper and by 10 a.m. Friday, I had a phone message from a gentleman from an outfit called The Center for Consumer Freedom in Washington, D.C. He saw the story at suffolknewsherald.com and wanted to publish our photo. I called him back and told him he would have to speak to Cal in Ahoskie. I asked him what his organization’s interest in the story was and got an earful.

From what I could gather, his organization is no friend of PETA. He directed me to a link from their Website call petakillsanimals.com.

It’s full of accounts similar to that which happened in Ahoskie. The site claims that PETA euthanizes about 10,000 animals a year. He also told me about an incident the Associated Press (which also called wanting Call’s photos) reported on in which about 150 dogs were found similarly disposed of in Gate City, way out west.

I checked out the Center for Consumer Freedom web site, consumerfreedom.com, to learn a little more about the group. Apparently, it’s a lobbying group funded by the restaurant and food industry to basically savage anyone who suggests that people should eat a healthier diet – people like PETA, the Center for Disease Control, your mother, etc.

Their website describes it as follows: &uot;We speak up whenever activists propose curtailing consumer freedom. What makes us different from many organizations is that we aren’t afraid to take on groups that have built &uot;good&uot; images through slick public relations campaigns. Remember: even an ugly baby can be named &uot;Tiffany.&uot; Just because they claim to be &uot;ethical&uot; or &uot;responsible&uot; or &uot;in the public interest&uot; doesn’t mean they are. And when they talk about throwing bricks through windows, taxing your favorite foods, or throwing the book at popular restaurants with tobacco-style lawsuits, we make sure you know about it.&uot;

I was disappointed in PETA over the incident. Being a vegetarian, I’ve long been interested in food and health issues, but for myself, not to push on other people – I’m too self-centered for that. I don’t care what anybody else does. And while PETA is over-the-top, I’ve been an admirer of their ability to attract to attention and the humor in their public relations stunts. &uot;Got Beer,&uot; was hilarious.

Jason Norman from our staff followed-up on Cal’s story and secured a statement from Ingrid Newkirk of PETA about the Ahoskie incident, which read, in part: &uot;Although we have indeed placed dogs and cats from North Carolina in homes – in fact, we have two cats and one dog from there living in our offices now – dogs from N.C. pounds often have conditions like Parvo virus or contagious mange. Many have lived all their lives on a chain (one yesterday had a chain embedded deeply into his infected neck) and are not generally socialized or attractive to people, most of who are looking for small, cute, housebroken puppies without medical problems. &uot;

So, basically, what Newkirk is saying is that those filthy, mean, North Carolina rednecks are too ignorant to know how to keep pets so PETA is entitled to kill them.

I find the attitude more than a little arrogant and insulting to the good people of North Carolina.

What PETA did was indefensible and those who did it, as well as those who condoned and facilitated it should serve jail time. I hope they get it.

But at least PETA is only hurting animals. The Center for Consumer Choice is hurting people. It lobbies on behalf of the junk food industry so it’s free to market its poisonous products to children under the guise of freedom of choice and personal responsibility. What a crock! I’m all for responsibility, but it’s a two-way street. If they want to be left alone, then junk food manufacturers and fast food companies need to market their products responsibly to adults. They don’t. If they did, we probably wouldn’t have

groups like PETA and frivolous lawsuits.

Andy Prutsok is publisher of the News-Herald and a regular columnist. He can be reached at 934-9611 or at andy.prutsok-@suffolknewsherald.com.