The organization People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) have been in the news for recent issues regarding animal cruelty. The same activists that had to fight to preserve the habitat of animals, the cruelty in the clothing industry and in medical experiments have been the focus of attention for the way they have handled disposing of dead dogs and cats. This paper will establish the ethical issues, theories, ground rules, and how all apply to the PETA case. What is important to understand in a case like this is leadership has an important role to play. How far will a protector of animals go while hiding unethical practices? Statement of the Problem
PETA claims that their mission is to champion the welfare of animals and protect them from abuse. They cite some of their goals as eliminating animal abuse in the fur industry, eliminating animal usage in research projects, eradicating food industry usage of animals, changing the living conditions for animals in shelters, and promoting bans on using animal products for clothing. PETA has enlisted many celebrities to help promote the national campaigns. These campaigns depict passionate, caring vegans whose goal is to save animals.
Recently PETA has had a challenge in North Carolina. Authorities made an arrest of two PETA employees for dumping dead animal carcasses into the dumpsters of a grocery store. After more than 90 animals were found at one dumpster at different times, authorities were finally able to identify the perpetrators and arrest them. The animals were from a local shelter. The PETA representatives made a statement about finding good homes for these animals rather than the abuse they might suffer in the shelter. PETA's humane treatment is slaughtering the same animals and throwing the animals into a dumpster.
Statistics have shown that this is not a single case as the state of Virginia reports 10,000 cases of animal deaths as a result of PETA's involvement. PETA was responsible for euthanizing 85% of the animals that PETA took from local shelters. The North Carolina shelter's rate of euthanasia was only 73%. PETA's argument for the euthanasia was it was done only to save the animals from the cruelty of being shot with a .22 rifle behind a shed or from gas administered in a windowless box, both PETA claim are inhumane. Ground Rules and Ethics Theories
The ground rules or behaviors apparent in the action of the employees are that if an animal is not able to find a home, then the group has a right to kill the animal even though the philosophy of the organization is the opposite. The behavior may have come from the organization itself based on the amount of money the care for animals takes until such time as the animals find a home. The decision as to what animal has the chance of finding a home appears subjective.
The behavior who based on two ethics theories. The first is consequentialism which assesses the rightness or wrongness of the actions in terms of the value of the consequence (McNaughton, 1998). The second is relativism, the belief that nothing is simply good but only good for someone or from a certain point of view (Craig, 1998). Looking at consequentialism as it relates to the behavior of the employees, PETA can rationalize their actions by the consequence of the animals humane killing as opposed to being put down in a shelter. Looking at relativism, PETA's point of view is the action of the employees manifest a good result because without enough money for proper care of the animals until a home is found, killing them humanely was the appropriate action. Of course, without talking to the employees to find out what was behind the actions all is speculation and assumption. Ethical Deficiency
The PETA organization appears to be full of contradictions, which lead to serious ethical questions about the organization's commitment to preventing animal cruelty. How can an organization claiming to want to...