- - Monday, March 20, 2017

Environment maven Al Gore selling his cable network to fossil-fuel-funded al Jazeera. Leonardo DiCaprio traveling thousands of miles on fuel-gobbling yachts and private jets while bemoaning climate change. PETA killing animals.

Activism is often accompanied by hypocrisy, but none is crueler than an animal rights organization euthanizing healthy animals. Last year, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals killed more than 1,400 cats and dogs at its Virginia headquarters — roughly 72 percent of the animals put in its care. Since 1998, PETA has euthanized more than 36,000 cats and dogs — nearly 86 percent of its animals. In one recent year, the animal rights group killed 1,911 out of the 1,992 cats and dogs it took in.

According to the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, PETA is unusually adept as a euthanasia shelter. The euthanization rate among all private animal shelters in Virginia was 10.1 percent in 2016. At PETA? The kill rate was 71.9 percent — more than seven times higher.

And it’s not only sick and injured animals losing their lives. In 2014, PETA employees admittedly stole a Virginia family’s pet Chihuahua in broad daylight from the family’s porch. A surveillance video showed a PETA van pull up in the driveway, followed by a worker seizing the dog and driving off. Wilbur Cerate, the dog’s owner, reported PETA employees later returned to his home with a fruit basket and news that the dog had been killed.

In 2007, two PETA employees were tried for animal cruelty in North Carolina after they were caught dumping the bodies of dead cats and dogs in a dumpster late at night. Evidence presented during the trial showed that PETA employees killed animals that they considered “adorable” and “perfect.” PETA allegedly picked up cats and dogs from animal shelters in North Carolina and killed them before they left the state.

So much for PETA’s impassioned pleas to end “abuse that animals suffer at human hands.”

Unfortunately, PETA is not the only hypocrite in the activist community. The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) — which fancies itself as “the nation’s most effective animal protection organization” — does not run a single pet shelter. Only about 1 percent of HSUS’ budget consists of grants to local pet shelters.

Where does the money go? Since 2012, HSUS has put more than $150 million of donor money into offshore accounts. Annual tax returns show that mysterious places like Fir Tree International Value Fund in the Caymans and Hayman Capital Offshore Partners in Bermuda are frequent recipients of HSUS money. In 2014, HSUS “invested” $55 million in the Caribbean, half of the money it raised from the public that year. Caribbean “investments” like these are made while desperate cats and dogs get no return on investment. But good returns are necessary for HSUS staff if you’re going to sustain their big executive pension plan.

All the while, animal rights activists conceal a radical agenda. HSUS CEO Wayne Pacelle is demonstrably against pet ownership, claiming that he doesn’t “want to see another cat or dog born.” The group’s Senior Food Policy Director Matt Prescott compares animal farming to the Holocaust. In his words: “Anybody who eats meat is guilty of holding the same mindset that allowed the Holocaust to happen.”

PETA is no better. As President Ingrid Newkirk once said, “Even if animal tests produced a cure for AIDS, we’d be against it.” She remains a firm believer in “total animal liberation,” meaning the abolition of zoos, aquariums and circuses — not to mention meat, milk and other animal food products.

If you’re considering a donation to help animals in need, steer clear of vegan activists doing much more harm than good. The hypocrisy of animal rights activism is just cruelty with a different name.

• Richard Berman is the president of Berman and Company, a public affairs firm in Washington, D.C.

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