Breaking the Chain (2020) - full transcript

It's a fate worse than death for countless animals: a life sentence of isolation and deprivation. Their only hope is PETA's Community Animal Project, a field team fighting against a national epidemic of animal overpopulation and neglect.

It’s upsetting
when people say things

and they don’t understand
what we do.

They’ve never come to visit,

or they’ve never
posed any questions.

They look at numbers
on a piece of paper,

and they make assumptions.

I think it’s very
important for people

to look behind the numbers,

at the individual animals
that we encounter

in the field
and what their stories are.

Every one of those
numbers is a story.

Every one of those numbers
is an individual animal.

It’s OK.

I know you like this.

I know. I know.

I know, sweetheart.

Just give me a second.

- You all right?
- Yeah.

- That was an enthusiastic grab.
- Yeah.

That was an enthusiastic grab.

Glad you like it, though.

I’m gonna look at you.
I’m gonna look at you.

Come here.

Come on. It’s OK.
No one’s gonna hurt you.

Generally speaking,
in terms of the

sorts of areas we visit

and the predicament
of the dogs that we help,

it’s a fairly typical day.

She has lost quite
a bit of weight

since I was here in June.

And her hair loss
is more severe,

and you can see
she’s very hungry.

And I can see the fleas
crawling all over her body.

And the flies are eating
her ears up alive.

I don’t know that she's
fed on a regular basis.

This is her life every day.

Every second of every minute
of every hour of every day,

this dog lives here.

The woman across the
street is the sister

of the man who owns this dog.

And I think it’s

very important for us to try
and get her out of here

very, very soon.

PETA moved to Norfolk in 1996.

It was a fiscal decision.
Cost of living here was low.

We have a building here
on the Elizabeth River,

downtown Norfolk,
and a dog park,

which is more than an acre.

We actually have two dog parks,
a big one and a small one.

We’ve been growing
by leaps and bounds,

and so this building
allowed us to

have a shelter
on the fourth floor.

CAP stands for the
“Community Animal Project.”

It is a division of PETA’s

Cruelty Investigations

that was born out of necessity

after PETA moved down to

southeastern Virginia
in the mid-’90s.


Over the months
and years after we arrived,

calls from the
community for help

increased from week to week.

And it didn’t take us
very long at the time

to realize that there was a
dire need in the community,

not just our immediate community

here in Norfolk
and Hampton Roads

but far beyond that
into counties that are rural,

and even over the border

in northeastern North Carolina,

where there are
entire jurisdictions

where there are
no services at all.

One county we work in doesn’t
even have a veterinarian in it,

let alone a low-cost
spay/neuter program.

When I was an
animal control officer,

I saw the problems
that were out there

and had a friend
that worked at PETA,

and it seemed like a job
where you could actually

get out there
and get your hands dirty

and make a difference.

After my internship here,

I was inspired by the
work that CAP does.

So I decided to stay
and continue to work in CAP.

I started volunteering
in the winter

to do the straw delivery.

And I kind of fell
in love with seeing

the impact of what you do
immediately for the animals.

And I like being out in the
field, getting dirty.

Sitting at a desk
isn’t my thing.

As long
as I can remember,

I’ve always known about PETA

and I’ve always had a
desire to work at PETA.

I was living in Chicago,

and there was a very disturbing
pet store called Animal Jungle.

It was just one of those places

that’s a pure nightmare
for animals.

And I called PETA
to see what I could do.

I ended up speaking
with a caseworker

and sort of followed the
steps that she gave me to do,

went back in there
with a video camera,

sent some information.

But when I would
call after hours

to give the caseworker updates,

one time I heard that it said,

“For job opportunities,
press 7.”

So I pressed 7.
And that’s that.

A typical day is usually
going out to North Carolina,

where we help out people
with their dogs

that need assistance

that don’t have money
to take care of their dogs.

The people are really poor,

and usually the dogs
are chained out,

and people forget
about their dogs.

We always have
to be given permission

to be on somebody’s property.

So we’ll go and knock.

Hey! My name’s Jes.
I’m from PETA.

We had stopped
by before about Brownie.


We had tried to catch
you a couple of times,

but maybe you weren’t home.

Oh, OK.

Well, we just stopped by

because when I was
here last time,

it was in February
and he was kind of thin,

so I was just checking
to see if things were,

how things were going.

He does? He’s doing good?


I know we had also talked
about maybe moving him

to some shade.

Today it’s a little mild,
but you know,

the other day was like 90
degrees and without shade.

Did I wake you up?
You have a headache?

Aww, I’m sorry.

Well, I can see that he doesn’t
really want me messing with him,

but I’m gonna give
him a couple treats.


Will you just make
sure that he has

plenty of water out here?

OK, where?
Oh, in the jugs? OK.

Tethering is tying up your dog

or other animals 24 hours a day,

365 days a year no matter
what the weather is

no matter, you know,
whether they have shelter.

It could be pouring
rain or snow.

It could be freezing cold to the
point where their water bowl

becomes a frozen piece of ice
and is therefore not drinkable.

Ice storms and hurricanes
are very common

in this area
as are thunderstorms.

And in the summer months,
temperatures here can exceed

100 degrees Fahrenheit.

Some people will tether or chain
their animals with, you know,

an old refrigerator for cover

or a wire crate for shelter,

which, of course,
doesn’t do anything.

Or just inadequate shelter like

a plastic doghouse
that comes apart,

or the dogs are very bored,
so they chew at them,

and eventually the doghouses
don’t serve a purpose at all.

Dogs are social creatures,

and they want to be
inside with their families.

And unfortunately, the dogs we
see most chained are pit bulls.

Where we go,
dogfighting is a thing,

so we see dogs that are stolen,
used as bait.

People let their dogs
run at large as well,

so we see dogs
that are on chains

attacked by dogs
that are running at large.

And because their
guardians may not

go out and check
on them every day,

they can be left to suffer
for days with wounds.

And after a certain point,
those dogs aren’t always

in a position that they
can be adopted back out.

When we was growin’
up, we had a dog like a poodle.

A poodle was left in the house.

And when we got other dogs like

collies and stuff like that,

pit bull or German shepherd,
they were put outside.

- All dogs are house dogs.
- Hmm?

All dogs are house dogs.

What, what makes a dog
not a house dog?


I mean, so you—

I know you’re supposed to keep
them in there when it’s hot.

You’re supposed to keep
them in there all the time.

I mean dogs are pack animals.

Keeping ’em chained outside,

it breaks down their
mental health.

It’s not good for them.


Like I said, the way that, like,

these dogs are set up,
I mean, it isolates them.

When they’re inside and they're
with their pack,

- they’re happier.
- Mmm.

I’ve asked people
why they have dogs

when they keep
’em a certain way.

I think in many of the
cases that we deal with,

it’s a very deeply ingrained

traditional way in which people
were raised

that dogs belong outside or

it’s a possession
that allows you to say,

“Well, I have 20 pit bulls,
and I breed my pit bulls.”

I’ve heard,

“They’re out there
to let me know

when someone comes
into my yard.”

So they’re pretty much
little alarm systems.

Sometimes the people
with bigger dogs, you know,

they don’t want their dog
to ruin their furniture or

they didn’t want
to put up with a puppy

peeing on the carpet
and things like that.

They don’t wanna
have the patience

to go through potty training.

I grew up in a rural
part of Virginia where

most normal kids were
riding their bikes,

and then I was just
out there with a pack of dogs.

And always going
to their houses and

just offering to do
something with them

because a lot of people
kept them chained.

One of the struggles

that we really face
is just general lack

of education and knowing
what they really need.

So we try to educate
people as much as possible,

but it’s hard to take
someone coming in who

is telling you everything
you’ve been doing is wrong,

and you need to start
doing it this way.

Is she in heat?

Yeah, it looks
like she’s in heat.

Do you put her
inside when she’s in heat?


’Cause otherwise,
if she’s not pregnant now,

she will be very soon.

That’s that the song

“my milkshake brings all
the boys to the yard.”

The communities that we go to,

they’re all very poor.

Most of the people are
really low-income.

I think it’s important
to remember that

you have to have compassion
for them, for their situation,

for the reason
that they’re there.

Because they don’t wanna
be in that situation, either,

and they were taught from their
family to be this way,

to treat animals that way.

So, you know, all we can
really do is go out there

and help their animals
the best that we can.

All righty,
it’s good to meet you all.

Each day,

the fieldworkers are
assigned certain cases.

It may be that they also
remember cases from the area

or they’ve asked to go
back to a certain case.

And then they go
out in the field,

usually on their own.

Sometimes two
fieldworkers go together.

Could be that they are
delivering doghouses,

it could be that they are taking
an animal back home after spay.

It could be that they’re picking
up an animal to be spayed.

It could be that they are going
out because somebody called us

because their dog fell,

you know, off the balcony
and needs to be looked at.

It could be a frequent flyer,
if you will,

where we go out once a
month and give flea prevention.

You know, we bring out dog food.

We bring out tie-outs
to people that have dogs

in backyards and won’t
bring them in their house.

The flies bite their ears

’cause the owners never
clean up the feces,

so the flies will actually
eat their ears off.

Like, I’ve seen
ears that are gone.

We do a lot of education
in terms of teaching people

we need to get a little
bit of vet help here

or alternately this is
how you trim nails.

This is better nutrition

or just kind
of trying to improve

the lives of the animals
that we meet.

You can see where
the quick is right there.

Right, right.

If you go further than that,

she’s gonna bleed.

Oh, yeah.

I mean, we’ll come
out and do it for free,

but just we need to get
on it more often,

because the more
that they grow,

then the quick
will keep going out.

And as they keep getting longer,

it’s harder to get them
where they need to be.

You know what I’m saying?

Oh, man. She loves you,
doesn’t she?

You want a
couple cans of dog food?

And I'll get the
fleameds. OK. Be back in a sec.

We’ll stop back out in,
you know, like, you know,

six weeks and check
back in and do the nails again,

see how she’s doin’.


Oh, yeah, I can give you—I can
give you a card. No problem.

Well, like I said,
we appreciate it, man.

Well, I’m glad we
could help you out.

The first time I came here,

she didn’t come
out of the doghouse at all.

It’s taken several visits,
you know.


Last time I tried to pet her,
she flinched.

You know, she’s not
used to being touched.

You see?

She doesn’t know what it is.

She doesn’t...
she’s not familiar with petting.

She’s not... she's just afraid.

It’s always, you know,
the loneliness, the fear,

struggling with the flies,
with the mosquitos,

with the fleas, with the ticks.

And being chained,
some of these dogs that we saw,

in full sun in this weather,
it’s absolutely horrific.

Nobody would stop
by Zena’s house

by happenstance
and stumble upon the dog who’s

so sorely neglected that she’s
not long for this world.

The bottom line is that it’s
about what these animals need,

and most of these animals have
never had someone hold them

and kiss them and tell them
that they’re wonderful

and give them a good
meal and a clean,

soft blanket to lie on.

For most of the animals
we deal with,

that’s the first time they've
ever had a kind word.

You can see that all over Zena’s
face when we deal with her.

That no one has ever bent down
and told her she was beautiful

or she was a good girl.

No one has ever bothered
to treat her for fleas

that she has by the thousands.

No one has

bothered to take her for a walk
so she could roll in the grass.

Nobody’s bothered to give her
a meal that she appreciates.

She’s basically been kept alive

with food, water,
and a doghouse we gave her.

Oh, OK.

OK, thank you so much.

Thank you.

You are so welcome.

That dog was living
in fear of everything,

so I hope we can
do something special

and give her a chance to enjoy
life and find happiness.

It’ll take a little while,

but perhaps she’ll be
able to be rehabilitated.

We’re not taking the
flies with us, Zena.

We’re gonna leave
the flies here.

Beautiful dog. Beautiful girl.

When the animal is surrendered,

the form is signed by the owner.

We bring the animal back.

We take the animal upstairs.

They get, like,
a really nice guest room.

We give them food and treats,
and they even get music.

It’s a nice stay.

My job at the
PETA animal shelter

is to help take in animals
and provide their evaluation

and make sure they’re
comfortable for the stay,

whether or not it’s
overnight or for several days,

and see them
through to their next step.

By far of any
shelter I’ve worked in,

the rooms are really nice.

We lay down the floors
with thick blankets

and put toys in there,
food and water obviously.

we’ll play some classical,

relaxing music for them.

One of the rooms is
bigger than my first

apartment bedroom and bathroom

Most of the animals
that we have come in

we try to transfer out quickly

to some of our
placement partners

that do have
traditional shelters,

and we also use foster
homes as part of our shelter.

We are a shelter
under Virginia law,

and even though the number
of animals that we helped

through the shelter last year
was roughly 2,000 animals,

the number of animals’
lives that we touched

through the local
program was more than

20,000 animals—to give
you an idea of how

the sheltering part of our
work is vital to those animals.

But so is everything
else that we’re doing.

When we bring all
animals into the shelter

either for a surrender
or for spay or for neuter,

we do a health assessment
form on all the animals.

We check from head
to toe—you know,

their ears, their mouth,
their teeth.

Are there any sores or any cuts

or anything like that on them
that is notable?

Are they eating?
Did they go potty?

PETA takes in all animals.

We have had mice.
We’ve had pigs, ducks,

of course, your dogs
and your cats, iguanas, rats.

So all animals.

This chain came off of a puppy

whose neck vertebrae can’t
hold the weight of it

but also makes it
so that the puppy usually gets

tangled or lethargic,
where they’re not able to move.

They can’t get
to food and water.

Most of the dogs
that we see, when we find them,

they’re trapped at the end
of a heavy chain.

Sometimes, the chain
is heavy on purpose

because someone is trying
to build their neck muscles.

You know, the people who
do that think that it looks

quote unquote “tough.”

And so essentially,
tethering is chaining.

It’s just staking out an
animal as if they were,

you know, an old bicycle.

Tethering is something that we
work very hard to outlaw.

We’ve been able to get tethering
banned or restricted in every

single city in the Hampton Roads
area here in Virginia,

and we’re also working
in North Carolina

to make it so that

you can’t leave your
dog tethered or chained

24 hours a day.

At the moment,
it’s totally legal to do that

in most of the North Carolina
jurisdictions that we visit.

We have been able to get it
restricted and/or

banned in some jurisdictions,

and so we’re kinda trying

to have a ripple effect
with that.

Some areas do have
chaining ordinances where

you can’t have your
dog chained out at all.

In other places, you can have
your dog chained out for,

like, three hours a day, which
is kind of frustrating because

there’s no animal
control officer that’s

gonna sit there for three hours.

They’ll come back, and the
dog is inside or chained out.

They can’t really
enforce the law.

The other thing we found

is that the people
who live in a place

where there is an
anti-tethering ordinance,

they’ll sometimes
put them in pens,

and the pens will be just
as small as their tether.

So there needs to be
stricter enforcement

of how big a pen can be.

So that it doesn’t become the
same as chaining a dog up.

Hey! Are you David?

Oh, hi! I met your
brother Dennis yesterday.

So we brought
out a plastic house for—

do you call him
Jack or Jake?

Anything. OK. OK.

Um, so yeah, I set up a
plastic house for him

because that metal
thing was off.

Um, did you guys talk about

do you think you wanna
get him neutered?




I know, but I talked
to Dennis yesterday.

Pit bulls do not
have it easy out here.

Well, I know. That’s what
everybody says, though, and

I mean, half these dogs
end up being fought.

You never know about the people

that you’re gonna
give the puppies to.

And especially for him
with being, like, a male dog,

he’s gonna get older
and the longer he’s chained

being unneutered, the more
frustrated he’s gonna get.

So yeah, if you guys
decide to neuter him,

we’ll be happy to do it.

We might be able to bring
out one of the wooden doghouses.

He’s so big,
I have a feeling he’s gonna

break that two-tone in half in,
like, five minutes.

PETA employs carpenters

through our
Operations Department

that build these doghouses
that come in different sizes.

We do try to not
give doghouses

unless the animal has
been spayed or neutered,

so that’s a real
bargaining chip for us,

as a foot in the door.

The doghouse program
is a phenomenal program

for the dogs who
get the doghouses.

Many of them have
never had shelter.

For many of them,

that’s as close as they’re
going to get to a home.

It’s very sad to say.

I mean, a doghouse is
not the end-all solution,

but it makes a
tremendous difference

in the winter especially
but also in the summer

if the dogs don’t have shade.

Our doghouses
have an overhang.

The opening is off to the side.
They have a flap.

They’re just big enough
for the dog to go in

so that in the winter the
body heat is contained inside.

They have a little
hook in the back

so that we can put the
water bucket onto it.

And they also have our
800-number on the side,

so heaven forbid,
if an animal is sick

or an animal is dying or an
animal gets hit by a car,

the person who has that animal

doesn’t have an
excuse not to call us,

because that phone number is

right there on the
side of the house.

We deliver probably
about 300 doghouses every year

and it helps make dogs’
life a little bit less hellish,

especially in the wintertime.

It’s like a last resort.

Like, I try to talk people into

getting their dogs
in the house.

And if that can’t happen,

then the doghouse is obviously
the best resort for that.

We’ll set it up for you even if
it’s in, like, a pen or a fence.

We’ll flip it over the
fence for somebody.

I can’t tell you
how many cases we have

discovered by virtue of offering
this doghouse program,

because people will hear
about it and they will call.

Or they’ll ask their cousin,

“Where did you get
your doghouse?”

“Oh, it was free—I
got it from PETA.”

And then they call
us for a doghouse,

and we’re able
to ask them questions,

go and visit with the dogs,
assess the situation,

talk to them about spay/neuter,
talk to them about flystrike,

talk to them
about heartworm disease,

talk to them about just
basic necessities of life

that the dog needs if there’s no
water or there’s no water bowl.

So the doghouses are, for PETA,
they’re very expensive,

but they make a
tremendous difference,

a world of difference
for the recipients.

PETA has a
straw-delivery program,

and every winter we deliver
straw to needy “backyard dogs.”

We have a pallet in our
parking lot with bags of straw.

People can come and take
free straw, and they do.

We also have our staff
volunteer on the weekends

to go out into given areas

where we know there is a

high concentration of chained
dogs and offer free straw.

The straw in the winter,
it’s bedding for dogs.

People thoughtlessly give
them things like a blanket.

Well, if it rains
and then it’s 32 degrees,

you know, the blanket is
basically a giant piece of ice.

So that’s not very helpful.
But the straw will remain dry.

The dogs love it.
They love to roll in it.

When we put it down,
they get very excited.

And it does help contain their
body heat in the doghouses.

We wish we didn’t
have to give straw away

because we don’t want
dogs to be outside,

but the reality is that a
lot of dogs do live outside

and the straw makes a
big difference for them.

That’s your spot now?

She’s, like, “I like this.”

Here, do you want
that one in there? Yeah?


The thing is,
is that if your dogs are outside

and they’re not
getting treatment for it,

they’re gonna
get heartworms.

It’s a parasite
that wraps around the heart.

They will {end-italic} get it in our area.

Yeah. I think so.
I’ll check, but I think so,

’cause I think he was at the
end stages of heartworm.

Hi, Whitey.
Is he, he’s friendly?

Yeah, he’s friendly.

Hey, bud.
You look very friendly.

Hi. Hi. Hi.
What up, bud?

I’m not gonna give you
another dog to tie out here.

So we only adopt to inside.

You know, it’s just when they
live inside, they’re happier.

So when they’re tied outside,

that’s not the life
that we encourage.

Exactly why what
happened to Brownie.

They get diseases,
and things happen to ’em.

Everybody here has
been neutered already.


Wonderful, that’s great. OK,
I’m gonna unload the doghouses.

Do you have a spot, though,
that we could maybe move him

where he’d have a
little bit more shade?

Yeah, let’s...
I think that would be great.

He’s just having some good fun.

Whoa, he’s gonna
take you out there.

Hi, bud.




You just have to wash
them out every so often.

Here you go.

I meet thousands
of cats and dogs.

So obviously, I have connections
with all or most of them.

All right, see you later.

It’s definitely hard
to leave them

after visiting the
animals in the field.

But as much as it’s
hard to leave,

I know there’s
someone else out there

waiting for us to get there.

I met Edith
when she was just a year old.

She was one of the
“backyard dogs”

that we checked on regularly.

She was chained
at an address that had

several pit bulls chained
on the property with her.

We tried for years
to get her surrendered,

and we educated her owners.

We provided a doghouse.
We spayed her.

You know, every time
that I was in the area,

I would go
and visit Edith and

try to talk her owner
into giving her to me.

At one point, she was no
longer on the property,

and I assumed that she had died

because that’s what happens
to dogs who are chained outside,

either from the heat—she’s
a black chow mix,

so it’s harder for them
than other dogs.

I mean, of course, I was,

yeah, I mean, I was
devastated when we lost her.

You meet these guys,
and they’re your friends,

and you tell them all the time,
you know,

“I will be back for you.”

You know, we’re trying
as hard as we can to get them.

We didn’t know
where Edith had went.

She must have been
around seven or eight years old.

We don’t visit a lot of dogs
that get to be that age.

“Backyard dogs” just do
not have a long life span.

You know, her being older,

generally being
neglected for so long,

I assumed that she was dead.

Four years
we’ve been visiting this dog,

for four years.

He called us to get a doghouse.

This dog has had

several litters of puppies
until he let us spay her.

I don’t even remember
where I was, you know,

four years ago, you know,
what was going on in my life.

Every day is a different day,
you know,

and exciting things happen,
and I travel,

and I enjoy myself


And you know, this dog has
had the same patch of dirt,

the same doghouse,

the same flies, the same fleas,

Nothing to give her joy.
There is nothing.

She has been maintained
in order to survive physically,

and emotionally she
was just broken.

I mean,
she was so poorly socialized.

She never went for walks.

Where she had to eat is where
she had to urinate and defecate,

and that’s where she
also had to sleep.

And that was her life every day,
every day.

And I think
about this dog a lot.

I thought about this
dog a lot because

when it’s storming—last night,
there was a storm.

And my dogs,

my dogs at home were terrified.

I had to stay up with my dogs,

who are inside
and have security.

This dog doesn’t have anybody
to tell her that it’s OK

and the storm will pass

and to hug her and just make
her feel a little bit better.

She’s alone, and all she's got
is that doghouse we gave her

and our visits.

So it’s a wonderful day
that she’s out of this

life sentence she was
serving for no reason at all.


You wanna throw it?

- I wanna throw it.
- OK.

I wanna throw it.

Let’s, let's let her play
with it for one second.

- More cats.
- Cats.

- It’s quite small.
- You see all the...

It’s not really healthy.

Aww, yeah, yeah.

You see all the
infection in his eyes?

In the eyes. I saw.

I know, buddy.

I’m sorry.

She said there are
a lot of wild cats

and they have
babies all the time.

He’s got a couple
of maggots I think on his nose.

The eyes, the eye look...

Yeah, his eyes are sealed shut.

Can we come back there?

No, why don’t you guys
wait because I don’t,

it’s a lot for these
little guys.

Bye, young man.
Thanks for your help.

“Outdoor cats”
that live outside 24/7,

they tend to contract
diseases from each other.

Outdoor or feral cats
that are not vaccinated,

which most of them are not,

they can carry feline
leukemia and feline AIDS,

and they can spread
it to other cats.

They are exposed to the
dangers of Mother Nature.

The “outdoor cats”
that are kept out

typically don’t have
a very long life span.

If they get hurt,
there isn’t much vet care,

so you see a lot of wounds,
a lot of infection.

If a cat does get hit by a car,

it’s really sad because
a lot of times

they won’t check and make sure
the animal has even passed.

And so they can languish
on for days and days.

“Outdoor cats”—I mean,
they’re more prone to injuries.

We see where they’ve been
attacked by other animals,

by wildlife.

We’re always telling the
clients who we deal with

to please spay and neuter.

Please keep their
animals inside.

There are so many of them,

and they aren’t
spayed or neutered.

One unspayed cat can produce

over 200 cats in one
year just from them,

you know, mating and having
litters upon litters of kittens.

You might get a call for,
like, five or six cats,

but really, when you show up,
there’s 18 or more.

And cats, they start reproducing
when they’re a lot younger

than dogs and faster.

Because there is such a huge
number of cats out there,

definitely having them
spayed and neutered

will help prevent unwanted
litters and help save cats.

Uh, you have a couple cats
for spay/neuter, right?


OK. How many you have? Two?


Two. OK. Are they inside?

OK, well, I’ll give you the kit.

Do you need my
help catching ’em,

or are they gonna run
more when they see me?

Don’t let 'em out here.

Yeah. Let’s...

OK. Well, let’s...
is your dog friendly?

Oh, yeah.

OK. All right.
Let’s take 'em in then.

Where’s all this girl's hair?

- Huh?
- Where’s all her hair?

Does she have flea meds on now?

OK, we better put some on her.

Where is your white cat?

She’s pregnant now?
You don’t wanna get her spayed?

OK, you wanna wait ’til after?

OK, how far along is she?


You just have the one other cat?


Well, soon-to-be babies,
right? OK.

Well, where are those babies?

What’s your plan for 'em?

You wanna keep ’em,

or you want us to find
somewhere for them to go?

How many?

so you’re gonna have three,

seven cats,
plus the babies on the way?

Well, the thing is if, I mean,
if they’re kittens,

it’s easy enough
to find them homes.


Especially, you’re
gonna have a whole nother

litter of kittens.

Who’s “her”? Your wife?


Where’s she at?

Ah. When’s she get out?

That’s a long time.

How old...

See the kittens are gonna—you
talk to her when you see her.

And the person who brings these
cats tomorrow will ask you.

It’s just if you're
about to have more kittens,

that’s a lot of kittens.


Well, there’s a tremendous

overpopulation and homelessness
problem for animals,

and there has been for many,
many years.

It’s still a crisis,
but over the years,

due to spay/neuter efforts,

the number of animals
affected has diminished

but is still astronomical.

So the estimate is that more
than six million animals

go into animal
shelters every year.

And roughly half of those
have to be euthanized

because there is not a good
home out there for them.

So this is a national epidemic.

Every single community has
an overpopulation crisis.

By virtue of affluence and laws,

some communities’ problems may
be less significant than others.

The area where we
happen to be located,

the problem is very pervasive,

and there are studies
that show that

animals in low-income areas
are more likely to reproduce.

And that’s why our
clinics focus so heavily

on low-income areas
and indigent populations,

the elderly poor,

so that animals who
would otherwise

have no services get
services from us.

But the overpopulation
and homelessness problem

remains an epidemic,

and that is the reason why PETA
advocates always adopting,

never buying, banning
breeding of dogs and cats,

mandating spay/neuter,

because there are
animals literally

dying for homes
in animal shelters

because people are still buying
and people are still breeding.

Animal overpopulation happens

because people don’t spay
and neuter their animals.

And, like, for cats,
they just let them roam outside,

reproduce, and keep on roamin’.

He was mad at me for a while.

For the neuter?

It’s better
for him long-term though.

Yeah. I know it is.

But it’s hard
to explain that to him.

We probably shoulda
got rid of mine years ago.

We make it really
easy for people

to spay and neuter their animals

because not only will we
offer the service for free

but we will go to their house
and pick up their animals,

bring them to the clinic,

have them spayed and neutered,
and return them home.

You don’t have to do anything.
You don’t have to go anywhere.

You don’t have to get up.

All you have to do
is sign this form.

Bam, poof, it’s done for you.

Welcome to PETA’s
first-ever 24-hour Spayathon.

We’ve been here
since 5:00 p.m. last night.

We’ve had hundreds
and hundreds and hundreds

of dogs and cats show up.

People are really
taking advantage

of the 25 dollar
24-hour Spayathon,

which is amazing because one
of our vets told me that

at least 60 % of the animals
she’s seeing she can tell

would have not been done
had we not done this special.

We have waves and waves
and waves of activity coming.

We had one at 5:00 p.m.,
one at 9:00 p.m.,

one at 1:00 a.m.,
and one at six in the morning.

And then our 9:00 a.m. check-in.

I have a German shepherd.

She’s gonna be two in April.

She’s 77, 78 pounds,

and if I would have had
to take her to the vet,

it would have been, like,

$200 and something or above,
so it is appreciated.

Lori-Jo, our clinics’ manager,
has been here the whole time.

She hasn’t sat.
She hasn’t taken a break.

We spayed and neutered over 400
animals in that amount of time.

It was something that probably
has never been done before,

but it was a good experience.

In many cases when an animal

is matted
or needs grooming,

we will shave them down.

We trim their nails.
We look at them.

A lot of the animals we
see in the field have issues

that our clinic can help treat.

We just amputated
the leg of a dog who

was thrown off the balcony
by a child to another child

who said she could
catch the dog,

and she didn’t catch the dog.

And the dog’s wrist
just clean broke.

And the vet
recommended amputation.

And our vet amputated
the dog’s leg on our clinic.

So our clinic is a
spay/neuter clinic,

but we’re also able to do some
other limited things that

help the community
and help animals.

Watch. She’ll figure this out.


Give her a
little excitement later.

It’s a picnic.

I cannot decide to play or...

I don’t know what to do first.

All right,
let’s look at this situation.

Oof. Not standing
in a good place there.


He’s so decomposed.

Entomologists can usually
tell the kind, you know,

the age of the
insects and things.

That’s why I wanted
to find this man at home

so that we could ask
him some questions,

and if he doesn’t
want the other dog,

I don’t want her
to suffer the same fate.

The major problem is

people have animals
that they can’t take care of.

They don’t care for them.
They don’t feed them.

They chain their dogs
out like a yard ornament.

Any being being
chained out 24/7,

left to die—I think
that’s the worst thing.

One very unique service
that PETA offers in this area

is that we always have
two people on call.

24 hours a day,
365 days a year,

if an animal needs help,
we’re here.

One of the people on call is a
certified euthanasia technician

because we do get
calls after hours

about actively suffering animals
whose misery needs to be ended

as soon as possible.

That can be an end of life
for a companion animal.

It can be a rabbit or a raccoon
who had been hit by a car.

In December, we got a
pager call at ten o’clock

from a very nice
lady in Suffolk,

which is a couple towns away,

and that woman had called
the police department,

animal control,
and was told to call back

the following day at 11:00 a.m.

And what she was
calling about was a dog

who was confined to a pen,

who was paralyzed probably
by virtue of having very,

very advanced heartworm disease.

And what happens with congestive
heart failure is that

the belly fills with fluid,

and this dog’s belly was
so filled with fluid

and so distended that he didn’t
have the strength to stand,

and it was pouring rain.

I was on call
with another CAP staffer

and we drove out there
around 10 o’clock at night,

and this poor dog was in a pen.

He was trapped in a hole

that I have no doubt he dug
for himself over the summer

when he was trying to stay cool.

Dogs dig holes to sort of be
against the cool earth.

It was pouring rain, so the
hole was filled with water.

And so he had been sitting like
that for probably a day or two,

according to the caller,

and he couldn’t get
to the doghouse.

He couldn’t get to the food.

The food he had was
like little pieces of sponge

because it was all soaking wet.

And he couldn’t do anything
but just sit there and

wait for something.

And the police department
was going to let him wait,

you know, another 14, 15 hours.

And he might not have made it.

And so we went out there,

and we were able to carefully
pick him up out of the hole,

put him on a stretcher,

and drag the stretcher
to our vehicle,

put him in the vehicle,
dry him ’cause he was soaking,

and give him something to eat.

And had to explain to the
guardian in the home,

who was
developmentally disabled,

that the dog was suffering
and needed to be euthanized.

And our emergency pager system

prevented this dog
from suffering

for an extra 15 hours.

We were paged by someone who
had given a dog to somebody else

and then went
to check on that dog,

and the dog was
essentially abandoned

but also had a collar
grown into his neck.

And so two of our
folks went out,

and they were able
to get the dog and

take him to the
emergency vet clinic.

His collar was very
deeply embedded,

and he needed to have
it surgically removed.

And he was just
a sort of a puppy.

I mean,
the collar had been left on him,

and then he was allowed to grow
around the collar essentially.

But his spirit was unbroken.

He was a great dog.

We were able
to get him fostered,

and then he found a home.

And that was really wonderful
to see him go from

the hell that he was in to just
being very, very loved.

The most exciting
part about the job

is seeing the before-and-afters.

When we take an animal in,
they usually come to us.

They’re skinny or emaciated.
They’re scared. They’re hungry.

They don’t know
kindness in people yet,

and over time,
I mean,

even after they’re with us
just a couple of days,

their personality really
starts to come out.

We may have given them a bath,

or they’ve put on a
little bit of weight.

Just knowing how scared and,

you know, maybe unsocial they
were when we first took ’em in

and then seeing them in their

new homes months later where
you wouldn’t even recognize

them from both their
physical appearance

and their personality.

And you know,
they’ve gone from being

chained in someone’s backyard
where they’re just forgotten

to sleeping on a couch,
you know,

and getting Christmas presents
under the tree and just having

their lives totally transformed.

It’s OK.

I know you’re very worried,
but it’s OK.

Come on.
Come on, girl. Good girl.

We tried to get her
owner to let us have her

on every single visit.

You know, we can’t make
people do the right thing,

and the only reason that we got
her in the end is because of her

health issues and because she
was very clearly at that point

practically a cruelty case.

Oh, she’s pooping.

Oh, she is? Oh,
right on the blanket. Oh, well.

Aww, poor baby.

That water went
right through her, didn’t it?


Poor thing.

Well, you know, at least
she did it on the floor.

I’ll just fold it up.

There’s a
serious misconception

with the term “no-kill.”

There are some shelters that

perhaps call
themselves “no-kill.”

I think there are
also shelters that

practice what would be
considered “no-kill” policies

but may not be straight-up
“no-kill” shelters.

The term itself is very
appealing to everyone,

for good reason,

because nobody wants
to have to euthanize animals.

The problem with so-called
“no-kill” policies is that

they cause animals to suffer.

That’s the short answer.
How do they do that?

The animals are out there,
and they need help.

Shelters are under
so much pressure

by usually small
but very vocal people

who are opposed to euthanasia
under any circumstance

and target shelters for having
to practice euthanasia.

So what they do is
they pressure shelters to

change their admission policies
so that animals who would have

to be euthanized under normal
circumstances are turned away.


The intake rate drops,

and by the intake rate
dropping or changing,

the euthanasia rate also drops.

PETA could only take
in animals who are placeable,

and then our what’s called
a “save rate,” if you will,

would be 100 %.

That would be very easy.

But that would mean that we
would have to turn our back

on all the feral cats

that people perceive
as a nuisance

and put poison out or shoot at.

That we would have to turn our
back on all the aggressive dogs

who have gone mad

from being trapped at the end
of a chain their entire lives.

It would mean we’d have to turn
our back on the destitute people

who bring us animals
in their arms

who are suffering who
need to be euthanized.

Because all of those
things contribute to

what ends up being
our statistics.

Our statistics reflect who we
take in and who we help.

About 17 years ago,
I saved a dog,

a wild dog,
that was on the street.

I took her in and took
care of her best I could.

And old age has
caught up to her,

and I decided it was
the humane thing to do

is to have her euthanized.

I’m glad they’re around.
I really appreciate it.

The problem with “no-kill”

is that it’s just a shell game.

They pick and choose who comes,

who doesn’t come.

People get really frustrated
when their animal

isn’t accepted
into a “no-kill” shelter.

They’re put
out into the streets.

They’re given just
willy-nilly to anybody.

It leaves animals abandoned,

to fend for themselves
very often.

It also is very
dangerous in that it

misleads the
public into believing

that “no-kill” is possible.

In Virginia last year,

there were more than 230,000
animals who went into shelters,

public and private.

That’s the problem.

The problem isn’t how many of
those 230,000 were euthanized.

The problem is that 230,000 were

unwanted or homeless
to begin with.

That’s where the
focus has to be,

and that’s why we have
four spay/neuter clinics.

Spaying and neutering

gets to the root of the problem
of animal homelessness.

There are so many
born every year

and end up in shelters
or no place to go.

So spaying and neutering
prevents those

animals from being
born in the first place.

So when you mislead
the public into thinking,

well, look,
this shelter is “no-kill”

and you compare that shelter’s
rate to PETA’s rate of intake,

adoption, euthanasia,
transfer, what-have-you,

of course, the percentages
are gonna look different.

One shelter only
takes animals that

fly out the door because they’re
puppy-mill rescues

or they’re small purebreds
or they’re kittens or puppies,

and one shelter is taking
in animals who are not adoptable

and is making the difficult
decision to euthanize them.

Well, I think a lot
of people that are against

euthanizing animals,

especially the animals
that we euthanize,

they don’t see what
we do on a daily basis.

They don’t see where
the animals come from.

The animals that we pull out
that do end up being euthanized,

they’re in really bad shape.

The owners have

basically had them chained
out their whole lives.

They’ve been in fights.

They have infections all
over them, bite wounds.

I get emotional, but really
when we euthanize an animal,

it’s for the best for them.

Most of the time, they’re in a
lot of pain or suffering,

or they’re chained
out all the time

and have had the
worst life ever.

So these animals aren’t going
to be going through this

pain and suffering anymore.

We love every
single one of them,

and just having the opportunity
to be with them in their last

moments is an honor.

You know, if you look
at Zena inside and out,

everything about her
showed neglect.

She had lost a bunch of hair.
Her skin was inflamed.

Her teeth were worn
down to the roots.

She was anxiety-ridden. She was
terrified of human beings.

Her insides were chewed
through by parasites.

This is what happens to dogs
who are chronically neglected

when they are
kept outdoors 24/7.

And this is why our program is
so important because it serves

these dogs whose owners are
unkind or neglectful or ignorant

and can’t even tell
when their animals need basic

necessities of life.

I’m thankful
that she got to experience

a little bit of kindness,

even if she didn’t
quite understand it

before she moved on.

Never ever,
ever buy an animal anywhere.

Don’t buy an animal
from a pet store.

Don’t buy an animal
from a breeder.

If you are ready to make that
commitment to an animal,

it’s so easy to adopt these
days. You just go online.

You don’t even have
to go to the shelter,

although we certainly
encourage people to do so.

So never buy—always adopt.

Always spay or neuter. You know,
don’t wait. Don’t delay.

It’s not just the
right thing to do

for all dogs and cats because of

overpopulation and homelessness,

it’s also the best
thing to do for that

particular animal
from a health perspective.

If you see something,
say something.

If there is an animal
at the end of a chain,

if there is an animal in a pen,
if something doesn’t seem right,

you don’t have anything to lose.

Call local authorities,

and if you don’t
get action there,

call us, and we will do
our very best to help.

But never be silent.
Pick up that phone.

Go on the computer.

You can report things
anonymously to almost

every organization.

Don’t think that somebody
else is doing the right thing,

because a lot of people
are afraid to get involved.

PETA’s an animal
rights organization.

We did not move down to the
Norfolk/Hampton Roads area

to do sheltering or fieldwork.

We would be thrilled
if we didn’t have to do it.

We do it by necessity.
We do it because we have to.

And I think
that if people are perplexed

as to why we do what we do
and about why we euthanize,

because I understand, you know,
euthanasia is upsetting.

It’s upsetting
that it has to happen.

The people who criticize us are
not the people that we help.

If you went in the field with

any of the folks on our staff,

the reception we
get in the field,

with few exceptions,
like anything else,

is, you know, hugs and
thank-yous. You know, yesterday

I came home with a bag
of cucumbers

the other day.

You know,
people are appreciative,

and they give us thanks the
best way they know how.

And we are dealing
with people who

struggle to put
food on the table.

Mm-hmm. That’s right.

Beautiful babies.

This is a national issue.

PETA is used by advocates
of “no-kill” because

we’re well known.

But we are always
going to do what’s right

for individual animals,

from our perspective
of assessing the animals

and making decisions for them.

We always make the decision
that is the best decision

we can make for that animal
at that particular moment,

and that’s not an easy
thing to do all the time.

You know,
I try to stay very realistic

about what we can
do at each address,

and part of the work
that we do is living on hope.

You know, we hope we
can get them surrendered.

We hope that we can educate
people to do better for them.

I’ve been doing
this for 15 years.

If I didn’t have hope that
things were gonna get better,

I would be in a deep depression.

Edith was missing
for about three years.

Myself and Emily were
going through pictures

from the straw delivery
over the weekend,

and Emily said to me,
“Hey, come here,”

you know,
“look at this picture.”

And so I got up,
and I went over and looked.

And sure enough, instantly
I knew that it was her.

So I went out to the address,

and it turned out that her
guardian had just moved

I talked to her
about Edith getting older and,

you know, basically,

that it’s just not fair
to her to be chained outside.

I mean,
it was never fair to her,

but at this point,
she’s 10 years old.

You know, every time it
gets hot or it gets cold,

it affects her arthritis.

And she ended up telling
me that I could have her.

She tried to tell me that Edith
didn’t like being inside,

which is absolutely not true.

Edith loves to be snuggled
on the couch or the bed.

Anywhere you are,
she wants to be there.

I instantly knew I
wanted to adopt her.

I had known her for so long,

and she was just
such a wonderful girl.

Every moment, she’s just
more and more perfect.

Edith probably makes me happier

than anything else
in this world.

I mean, you know,
I’ve got kind of a hard job,

and it’s, like, man,

hanging out with her
is the best.

She makes my life
better every day.

Oh, and hopefully I make
her life a lot better as well.