People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is widely regarded as the most radical animal activist group in the country. The founder of PETA admits that radical action is sometimes necessary, but that PETA gets unfairly blamed for all sorts of things it didn't do.
If you listen to PETA opponents, you might expect Founder and President Ingrid Newkirk to have vampire fangs and sharp claws. A wide range of businesses, agencies, and entertainers who depend on animals for their livelihood regard PETA as pure evil -- a radical, out of control group that stages outrageous demonstrations, throws blood and paint on anyone who wears fur and wants to turn everyone into vegetarians.
Newkirk is in Las Vegas to promote her new book and says PETA is primarily interested in educating people to make choices that are less cruel to animals. PETA is radical, she says, but it also gets blamed unfairly.
"I think we are very radical. We don't like how animals are abused in so many facets of society -- the food industry, entertainment, clothing, experimentation -- and we want a complete reversal of all that. But no, our approach has never been to throw paint on fur coats. That's one of those doberman-in-the-closet-with-burlgar's-fingers-in-his-mouth kinds of myths. We decorate our own donated furs with blood and we do our own street tableau, but I think it was Joan Rivers who said ‘Those PETA people threw blood on my fur coat,' and afterward she apologized," said Newkirk.
Newkirk has written a new book called The PETA Practical Guide to Animal Rights, which contains ways everyone can all make conscious choices that lessen cruelty to animals, such as boycotting bullfights or circuses that use animal entertainers.
She has a book signing Tuesday night at 7 p.m. at the Borders bookstore at 6521 Las Vegas Boulevard South.