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PETA explains why it puts down hundreds of animals

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RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) - The Virginia-based People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) euthanized more than 1,600 dogs and cats in 2012, according to a report by the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. That figure represents 90 percent of the animals PETA took in last year.

"I think the general public would be surprised to know the number of animals that do get euthanized in the PETA shelter," Richmond SPCA CEO Robin Starr said. "We take in about 3,500 animals each year.

The Richmond SPCA is a a no-kill shelter. It euthanizes less than one percent of its animals each year. The animals are euthanized only when all other medical options have been exhausted, Starr said.

"I would like to think they would be able to rehabilitate more of the animals they receive," Starr said.

PETA senior vice president Daphna Nachinovitch said the numbers provided by the state do not tell the full story. She said unlike other shelters, PETA does not discriminate against the animals they take. She said PETA often accepts animals the know will not be adopted. She said putting down the animals is necessary because of the animal's failing health.

Nachinovitch said making sure pets are spayed or neutered is key to helping control the pet population.