Nhamp. suspends PETA agreement

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Officials in at least two Roanoke-Chowan area counties are casting a wary eye on the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).

In the wake of last week’s arrest in Ahoskie of two Virginia-based PETA employees on animal cruelty and illegal disposal of dead animal charges, Northampton County Health Director Sue Gay has suspended the county’s agreement with PETA pending the outcome of the case in Hertford County.

That decision came by a written order presented to the Northampton County Board of Commissioners during their regularly scheduled meeting yesterday (Monday) afternoon.

Meanwhile, Bertie County’s Commissioners were to decide last night on whether or not to act upon a recommendation by County Manager Zee Lamb for the county to return to a prior agreement with Powellsville veterinarian Dr. Cheryl Powell to provide enthanization services to the stray animals at the Bertie Animal Shelter.

Both Northampton and Bertie currently use PETA for those services. Officials in both counties said they were under the impression that PETA would first have the animals fully evaluated by a veterinarian and then attempt to find them a good home. If that effort failed, they understood that PETA would euthanize the animals.

According to Gay, Northampton has used PETA’s services for approximately one year.

Meanwhile, PETA has visited the Bertie Animal Shelter every Wednesday for the past two-to-three years, according to Lamb. The County Manager said Bertie used the gas euthanization process prior to 2000.

&uot;In 2001, we put money in our budget to pay Dr. Powell for the euthanasia method of putting these unclaimed pets to sleep,&uot; Lamb said. &uot;It wasn’t long thereafter that PETA became interested in selective animals at our shelter. A short while later they began taking all the animals.&uot;

Lamb also shed light on last week’s PETA news conference where photos were shown of the Bertie Animal Shelter and the condition of the dogs and cats at that facility.

&uot;What they didn’t tell you was the photos are five years old,&uot; Lamb said. &uot;Our animal shelter is improved, so of it thanks to PETA spending their own money to help us upgrade the facility.&uot;

Hertford County has an agreement with Ahoskie veterinarian Dr. Patrick Proctor to enthanize unclaimed pets following a mandated 72-hour waiting period.

Dr. Proctor confirmed the agreement, saying he had been performing that service for the past few years. He said PETA pays for his services based upon documentation he provides to the animal rights group.

(Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald Staff Writer Thadd White contributed to this story.)