(CNSNews.com) - The Center for Consumer Freedom on Monday charged People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) with hypocrisy because of PETA's vocal criticism of NFL quarterback Michael Vick, who pleaded guilty to involvement in a dog fighting network.
In an ad published in the New York Times, the Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF) notes that Vick is under fire for the killing of eight dogs and mentions his involvement in an illegal dog fighting operation. The ad also says that PETA has been responsible for the killing of more than 14,400 dogs, cats, and other animals since 1998.
PETA "loves to point the finger at others, when they should be looking at their own record of killing more than 90 percent of the animals left in their care," the ad says, citing government records CCF has obtained from Virginia, where PETA is based.
"PETA has shamelessly used the horrific Michael Vick case to pad their group's coffers, even though their track record of slaughtering thousands of helpless, adoptable animals is far more damning," CCF Director of Research David Matosko said in a statement. "Americans need to be aware of how PETA treats animals in their care and reject the group's overt hypocrisy."
Sarah Longwell, a spokeswoman for the CCF, told Cybercast News Service that the group is not trying to defend Vick. CCF is instead arguing that "PETA is not a credible critic due to their long history of animal cruelty," she said.
"We in no way condone what Michael Vick's doing," said Longwell. "What Vick did was reprehensible, just as what PETA does is reprehensible. We're simply trying to point out the hypocrisy."
Dan Shannon, a spokesman for PETA, said he had not seen the CCF ad, but it is "wildly inappropriate to compare the humane euthanasia of animals ... to murdering animals that did not perform well enough in an illegal dog fighting ring."
He told Cybercast News Service that "every responsible animal protection group in this country" performs euthanasia "as a matter of necessity because of the overpopulation crisis we have with cats and dogs."
"It's just a sad fact of life that some animals need to be euthanized when they have no other alternative," Shannon said. "I don't think any reasonable person would see the two as having anything to do with one another," he said of the comparison between PETA and Vick.
Longwell, however, said it is "fair to compare PETA to Vick," pointing to a case in North Carolina that found two PETA employees facing animal cruelty charges for euthanizing animals and throwing their bodies in a dumpster.
"PETA recently was brought up on animal cruelty charges when two of their employees were caught dumping dead puppies and kittens in a dumpster, and that's after they told people that they would find adoptable homes for these pets and then euthanized them in a van and threw them in a dumpster," Longwell said.
The two employees, Adria Hinkle and Andrew Cook, were found not guilty of animal cruelty in February but were fined and ordered to perform community service for littering.
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