People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is the largest animal rights organization in the world, with more than 6.5 million members and supporters.
PETA focuses its attention on the four areas in which the largest numbers of animals suffer the most intensely for the longest periods of time: in the food industry, in the clothing trade, in laboratories, and in the entertainment industry. They also work on a variety of other issues, including the cruel killing of rodents, birds, and other animals who are often considered “pests” as well as cruelty to domesticated animals.
PETA works through public education, cruelty investigations, research, animal rescue, legislation, special events, celebrity involvement, and protest campaigns.
Before PETA existed, there were two important things that you could do if you wanted to help animals. You could volunteer at a local animal shelter, or you could donate money to a humane society. While many of these organizations did useful work to bring comfort to animals who are used by humans, they didn’t question why they kill animals for their flesh or their skins or why they use them for tests of new product ingredients or for their entertainment.
PETA’s founders sought to give caring people something more that they could do and to provide them ways to actively change society. They wanted to promote a healthy vegan diet
and show how easy it is to shop cruelty-free
. They wanted to protest, loudly and publicly, against cruelty to animals in all its forms, and they wanted to expose what really went on behind the very thick, soundproof walls of animal laboratories.
Aided by thorough investigative work, consumer protests, and international media coverage, PETA brings together members of the scientific, corporate, and legislative communities to achieve large-scale, long-term changes
that improve animals’ quality of life and prevent their deaths.
PETA’s first case—the precedent-setting 1981 Silver Spring monkeys case—resulted in the first arrest and criminal conviction of an animal experimenter in the U.S. on charges of cruelty to animals, the first confiscation of abused laboratory animals, and the first U.S. Supreme Court victory for animals in
laboratories. And they haven’t stopped fighting—and winning—in their efforts for animals since.