HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - On Monday, July 8th, the New York Times published an article reporting that PETA -- People for Ethical Treatment of Animals -- kills about 2,000 animals each year in its shelter.
Reports like that are fueling a new "No Kill" movement in the Tennessee Valley.
"We have to have a plan," said one person at a group meeting of local animal rescuers and advocates this week. They met to discuss an event they're organizing to advance a new approach to saving animals: the No Kill movement.
"It's positive," said Michelle Maroon. "It's about keeping animals out of the shelter that don't belong there and returning those to their owners as quickly as possible so you minimize the number of animals there."
Their enthusiasm is building as PETA comes under fire, accused of killing thousands of animals at their shelter in Norfolk, Virginia, and adopting out less than 50 animals in the last two years.
"They've [been] known to be doing this in the 'rescue world' for a long time, it's just people have that public misconception. They don't know what really goes on," said Maroon.
Maroon is the president of "Forgotten Felines", a no-kill cat rescue that's been in operation for at least 12 years.
She wasn't surprised to read the New York Times report on what was happening at PETA's only shelter. It explained how major animal protection groups have moved to the no-kill shelter model, leaving PETA behind.
And that's the movement Maroon and her colleagues are pushing for for Huntsville. It's an eleven-step approach to bring shelters' save rate to 90%, while saving money.
"We know that it costs more to house and kill than it does to fix and release or re-home these animals," said Maroon.
She said city leaders and residents just have to be shown how to do it.
"We are people who are in the throws of rescue. We know what happens in the city, we know the numbers, we know the statistics," said Maroon. "We know that Huntsville can do this."
The event they're putting together is a free public workshop on Monday, July 29th from 1pm to 5pm at the Huntsville Madison Public Library.
They're bringing in nationally recognized speakers to spell out the simple steps necessary to make the transition to a No Kill community.
A spokesperson for PETA in New York, New York, told WHNT NEWS 19 that PETA's shelter is a last resort place that turns over most adoptable animals to larger shelters so their chances of finding forever homes are higher.
Ashley Byrne says PETA never turns away any animal and often performs euthanasia for people who cannot afford to have it done.