PETA Gets Slapped

PETA president condemns dumping, defends euthanizing animals

In North Carolina PETA employees Adria J. Hinkle, 27, of Norfolk, in pink at center, and Andrew B. Cook, 24, in back, of Virginia Beach, appeared Friday in Hertford County District Court on charges related to the dumping of animal carcasses in a trash bin. DREW C. WILSON / THE VIRGINIAN-PILOT

By TONY GERMANOTTA, The Virginian-Pilot
© June 18, 2005 | Last updated 1:26 AM Jun. 18

At least one county in North Carolina has cut its relationship with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals after two PETA workers were arrested Wednesday for allegedly dumping animal carcasses into a trash container behind a grocery in Ahoskie , N.C.

“As of today, we have temporarily suspended our agreement with PETA until the issues are resolved,” Sue Gay, health director for Northampton County, said Friday evening.

In a news conference at PETA’s Norfolk headquarters Friday, President Ingrid Newkirk said the dumping was “hideous, it’s wrong, and it never should have happened.”

Police suspected that PETA workers were killing the dogs and cats they were picking up from shelters and clinics because carcasses wrapped in plastic bags were found in the bins every Wednesday for four straight weeks, according to Ahoskie police Detective Jeremy Roberts. A total of 80 dead animals were dumped, he said.

Officers staked out the garbage bins, which were at a Piggly Wiggly supermarket.

They found 18 dead dogs in the container and 13 other animal carcasses in the van, which was registered to PETA, and arrested the two workers.

The animals were alive when they were picked up earlier in the day, Roberts said, adding, “We don’t know exactly how they were killed.”

In Norfolk PETA President Ingrid Newkirk said Friday that the way the animals were disposed was “hideous, it’s wrong, and it never should have happened.” HYUNSOO LEO KIM / THE VIRGINIAN-PILOT
Newkirk said they were likely given a lethal injection of a barbiturate that the organization is licensed to use.

PETA usually takes the animals back to Norfolk to be euthanized, Newkirk said, in a process that involves a single hypodermic shot and a gentle caress.

Very few are ever put up for adoption, she said.

“We won’t shy away from doing society’s dirty work as long as the alternative is a life of misery and a bad or slow death,” Newkirk said.

Last year, she said, 2,278 animals were euthanized in Virginia, 7,641 sterilized and 361 put up for adoption. She said she was not sure if the North Carolina animals were part of those statistics.

Animals were not supposed to be killed in North Carolina, except by veterinarians hired by the organization or if they were in too much pain to travel, PETA said.

After they are killed, Newkirk said, the carcasses are supposed to be sent to a crematorium, not dumped in bins.

“That conduct disgusts us,” Newkirk said of the dumping. “It shames us. It violates our own protocols, it happened without our knowledge and can never be allowed to happen again. But our work is important and our work must go on.”

The two PETA employees: Adria J. Hinkle, 27, of Norfolk , and Andrew B. Cook , 24, of Virginia Beach, appeared Friday in Hertford County District Court . Each faces 31 felony charges of animal cruelty and eight counts of illegal disposal of dead animals and one of trespassing.

A probable cause hearing was set for July 19 . PETA will pay for their attorneys, Newkirk said.

Hinkle has been suspended for 90 days, but Cook, who was hired only weeks ago as her assistant, has not been suspended, Newkirk said.

Newkirk said she had not yet spoken to the two workers.

Outside the courthouse, Larry Overton , an Ahoskie lawyer who represented Hinkle until she could retain an attorney, said, “She is devastated about the way this situation was handled. I believe there are some explanations that will mitigate some of the facts.”

Newkirk said her organization got involved in North Carolina after learning about conditions at shelters there. She said PETA investigators found that animals were dying in the shelters or being put to death inhumanely.

She said the organization let all those involved in North Carolina know that what PETA was offering was a better way to put the animals down, not an adoption service.

“PETA has never made a secret of the fact that most of the animals from North Carolina are euthanized,” Newkirk said.

But Gay said that was not the understanding she had with the organization.

“What I understood,” she said, “was that they would pick up the animals from us and they would be assessed as to whether they could be adopted or not.”

Many of the animals were strays and sick, she said, and probably not good candidates for adoption. But there was supposed to be an examination by PETA’s medical team.

PETA has veterinarians on staff to make sure the animals are healthy enough to be adopted, Gay said, “and if they are healthy enough, there would be an attempt to adopt it out.”

Tonya Northcott , a veterinary technician at the Ahoskie Animal Hospital, said that among the dead found Wednesday were a mother cat and her two kittens picked up that day by PETA.

“There was nothing wrong with them,” she said of the animals, noting that they had been dewormed and that she had been told there would be no problem finding homes for the cats.

“They’ll never get another one of them from us,” she said.

Staff writer Darren Freeman contributed to this report.

Reach Tony Germanotta at (757) 446-2377 or

Tonya Northcott, a veterinary technician at Ahoskie Animal Hospital, said that among the animals found dead Wednesday was a mother cat and her two kittens that were picked up by PETA workers. DREW C. WILSON / THE VIRGINIAN-PILOT

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