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2016 Top-Rated Nonprofit

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Animal Protection & Welfare, Animals

Mission: People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is dedicated to establishing and protecting the rights of all animals. PETA operates under the simple principle that animals are not ours to eat, wear, experiment on, or use for entertainment. 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: on factory farms, in laboratories, in the fur trade, and in the entertainment industry. PETA also work on a variety of other issues, including the cruel killing of beavers, birds and other "pests," and the abuse of backyard dogs. PETA works through public education, cruelty investigations, research, animal rescue, legislation, special events, celebrity involvement, and direct action.

Programs:   PETA receives complaints of cruelty to animals; works for the release of and obtains care for abused, neglected, and at-risk animals; investigates cruelty cases; gathers evidence of law violations; and takes action to ensure the enforcement of laws and regulations in an effort to protect the animals involved. Among other highlights of fiscal year 2009, we publicized the results of our undercover investigation into Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, where we documented workers beating and whipping elephants dozens of times in venues across the country. PETA’s undercover investigation showing workers kicking, beating, jabbing, and slamming piglets against the floor at an Iowa Hormel supplier resulted in 22 criminal charges, and our undercover footage of workers stomping, kicking, throwing, and inhumanely killing turkeys at Aviagen's factory farms in West Virginia resulted in 19 indictments for cruelty—the first time in U.S. history that factory-farm employees have faced felony cruelty-to-animals charges for abusing birds. We also aided in bringing many other animal abusers to justice, including a New York State Thoroughbred breeder accused of starving and neglecting 177 horses, and two Texas men charged with shooting and killing a dog.

We were victorious in a lawsuit to stop the Georgia Department of Agriculture (GDA) from granting licenses to animal shelters that employ gas chambers, a cruel form of “euthanasia” used to kill cats and dogs, and were instrumental in having the Clay County Animal Control in Florida cited for performing an experiment in which a dog was left in a sweltering car to see if he would suffer from heatstroke. We worked with law enforcement officials to humanely euthanize a suffering “downed” cow; got help for 30 dogs who were being kept in mud-filled pens in South Carolina; and rescued a 140-year-old lobster who had been confined to a tank inside a New York City restaurant. We also operated our highly successful spay-and-neuter program, which makes surgeries available at little to no cost to disadvantaged animal guardians, preventing thousands of unwanted litters and providing relief to overburdened, government-run animal control offices and local animal shelters.


PETA conducts educational campaigns and publishes materials that are distributed to students, teachers, the general public, and supporters. Major publications include materials made available through our programs for younger children, high school and college students, and educators as well as publications such as factsheets, booklets, fliers, posters, and PETA’s magazine, Animal Times. Campaigns involve renowned celebrities, extensive media attention, interactive Web site features that reach millions of viewers, and public service announcements, which are typically placed for free in high-exposure outlets.


PETA organizes campaigns to inform the public about, among other things, how animals are abused in the food, clothing, experimentation, and entertainment industries. Among other events in fiscal year 2009, PETA pressured Bolivia to enact their first animal protection regulation against horrific military training exercises; convinced the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to discontinue testing a sweetener derived from stevia on rats; prompted the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (KHRC) to ban the use of anabolic steroids for all racehorses and "snapper" whips for harness racing;persuaded Zappos.com, JCPenney, and Urban Outfitters to go fur-free; persuaded the University of Connecticut Health Center, and a Florida medical conference to stop torturing and killing animals in outdated medical training e

Community Stories

21 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters



Rating: 5

Ingrid Newkirk barely takes enough salary to survive living in Washington. My sister volunteered for them and reported that the staff work very hard towards preventing cruelty to animals. This is where I put most of my money.