PETA staffers face 62 felony cruelty counts in North Carolina
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, July/August 1995:
WINTON, N.C.––The scheduled
first court appearance of PETA staffers Adria
Joy Hinkle and Andrew Benjamin Cook on
multiple cruelty charges was on July 19, 2005
postponed until August 16.
Hinkle, 27, and Cook, 24, are
charged with a combined 62 counts of felony
cruelty to animals and 16 counts of illegal dis-
posal of animal remains.
Police sources have indicated that
other persons associated with PETA may be
charged as result of ongoing investigation.
The court date was delayed, report-
ed Darren Freeman of the Norfolk Virginian–
Pilot, because the prosecution was “waiting
for lab results on chemicals found in a van the
two suspects were using when they were
arrested, and the results to determine the
cause of death of one of the animals.”
Ahoskie, North Carolina police
detective Jeremy Roberts told Freeman that the
van was registered to PETA.
Roberts announced the next day that
the tests had confirmed that the chemicals
were ketamine and pentobarbital. Ketamine is
commonly used to immobilize animals before
surgical procedures or lethal injection.
Pentobarbital is the standard drug used for
lethal injection. Both drugs are regulated by
the federal Drug Enforcement Agency, and in
North Carolina may only be purchased and
used by a licensed veterinarian.
Ketamine is also known as “the date-
rape drug,” while pentobarbital is a barbituate
derivative with street value to addicts.
Hinkle and Cook were arrested on
June 15, 2005. Ahoskie police and Bertie
County sheriff’s deputies investigating the dis-
covery of 60 to 70 animal carcasses in dump-
sters during the preceding four weeks said they
saw Hinkle and Cook dump 18 dead dogs and
found the remains of 13 more in their van.
PETA staff had been taking animals
from pounds in Bertie County since 2001 and
nearby Northampton County since 2004.
Freeman and Seth Seymour of the
V i r g i n i a n – P i l o t reported that PETA president
Ingrid Newkirk called Hinkle “The Mother
Teresa of animals,” but suspended her for 90
days. PETA said Cook was not suspended.
Newkirk and domestic animal rescue
chief Daphna Nachminovitch told news media
and concerned animal advocates in a flurry of
statements during the next several days that
dumping the dead animals in garbage bins vio-
lated PETA policy and was done without their
knowledge, but insisted that PETA had never
concealed that most of the animals it took from
the North Carolina shelters would be killed.
Newkirk and Nachminovitch
claimed that PETA killed North Carolina ani-
mals by lethal injection so that they would not
be “drowned in floods,” shot, or gassed,
detailing in one statement a decade-long dis-
pute with Yadkin County over use of a locally
made carbon monoxide chamber.
But the animals involved in the case
against Hinkle and Cook came from other
counties––and were not all from pounds.
Wrote Freeman and Seymour,
“Among the dead animals authorities found a
female cat and her two ‘very adoptable’ kittens taken from
Ahoskie Animal Hospital, veterinarian Patrick Proctor said.”
Stated Proctor, “These were just kittens we were try-
ing to find homes for. PETA said they would do that.”
ANIMAL PEOPLE in mid-2004 received detailed
complaints from several North Carolina no-kill shelter volun-
teers and one ex-PETA employee who charged that PETA was
taking animals from them who had been sterilized and vaccinat-
ed in preparation for adoption, promising to place them in
homes, and then refused to account for them. The volunteers
believed the animals were being killed. The ex-PETA employ-
ee affirmed their suspicions, but the complainants had no phys-
ical evidence to support their case.
“The arrests have left local animal rescuers with more
questions than answers,” summarized Luci Weldon of T h e
Macon animal rescuer Ruth Brown told Weldon that
“In December 2003, while she was working with Rainbow
Rescue, a no-kill organization in Roanoke Rapids, she con-
ducted e-mail correspondence with an individual who described
herself as being active in animal rescue and who used the
Community Animal Project, run by PETA, to provide foster
care for the rescued animals.
“I thought it was the answer from heaven,” Brown
Wrote Weldon, “Brown said that she was told that
local animals transferred to PETA would be prepared for poten-
tial adoption. As animals were given to PETA, Brown said she
had contact with a representative of CAP in Norfolk, where
PETA is headquartered, as well as contact with Adria Hinkle.”
Said Brown, “We asked them about the animals and
they said they only had to put one to sleep because of congeni-
tal heart failure,” Brown said. “We questioned them on several
occasions. They reassured us that the animals were adopted.”
Continued Weldon, “Brown said that Warren County
animal rescuers held fundraising events to pay for spaying and
neutering and other needs related to the care of the animals
transferred to PETA.”
Brown became suspicious in late spring 2004 “after
her original contact arrived in a large truck which contained
over 80 animals,” Weldon added.
A fellow volunteer followed the truck to Ahoskie,
Brown told Weldon, but “was not allowed inside a building in
Ahoskie where the animals were taken,” Weldon summarized.
The volunteer did enter the building later and found
syringe caps and blood.
“In June of 2004, several local animal rescuers decid-
ed to cut ties with PETA, Brown said, and a Rainbow Rescue
representative said last week that her organization “will defi-
nitely not have anything to do with PETA,” Weldon wrote.
Brown’s account closely paralleled those that A N I-
MAL PEOPLE had received.
She told Weldon that Warren County rescuers sent
approximately 1,000 animals to PETA in about six months.
“We had faith,” Brown concluded. “They told us
they were fostering, vetting, networking these animals. Isn’t
this deception? We believed in them.”
While claiming to oppose cruel methods of killing
animals, PETA is the last major animal advocacy group in the
U.S. that overtly opposes neuter/return feral cat control and no-
In September 2003, for example, PETA tried to
block a neuter/return program proposed to the city of Newport
News by Cat Rescue Inc., the Animal Resource Foundation,
and Meower Power Feral Cat Coalition.
PETA and Meower Power had clashed before. ANI-
MAL PEOPLE in March 1998 published the allegation of
Norfolk-area cat rescuer John Newton that a hit squad led ini-
tially by Ingrid Newkirk herself had for three years trapped cats
from neuter/return colonies supervised by Meower Power and
took many to their deaths at animal control shelters.
Newkirk did not respond to ANIMAL PEOPLE
questions on that occasion, but confirmed to Michael Barakat
of Associated Press in July 2000 that her staff killed 1,325 of
the 2,103 dogs and cats they received in 1999––63%, above
the regional animal control norm of 58%.
Then, according to Virginia state records, PETA in
2003 killed 1,911 of 2,225 animals received: 86%.
Although PETA is not a shelter organization, it killed
more animals each year than 75% of the animal control shelters
Following the Barakat expose, PETA agreed to fund
three mobile sterilization clinics in Virginia, operated by the
Houston-based Spay-Neuter Assistance Program, whose first
Virginia clinic was funded by the Best Friends Animal Society.
Newkirk had in February 2000 media statements
called the Best Friends “No More Homeless Pets” drive to
make Utah a no-kill state “at best, naive.”
With investment of $8.27 million through June 2005
from Maddie’s Fund, Best Friends assembled a coalition
including 25 rescue groups, 54 animal control agencies, 93
private practice veterinary clinics, and the Humane Society of
Utah, who together have subsequently cut Utah shelter killing
by 29%, boosting adoptions by 56%.
Newkirk ripped “No More Homeless Pets” after Best
Friends cofounder Michael Mountain and two other Best
Friends staff members asked PETA about the Barakat article.
Newkirk “declined to meet with us,” Mountain told
“Other staffers at PETA said that they routinely kill
the animals that they pick up,” Mountain continued. “We have
received unsolicited reports from former
PETA staff, describing how they joined
because they wanted to help animals, only
to find that they were sent out to kill them.
We have also heard from numerous sources
who were visited by people calling them-
selves PETA volunteers,” Mountain said,
“offering to ‘find a good home’ for home-
less pets, and saying that the animals
would be taken to a ‘PETA shelter.’
“These people discovered too late
that there is no PETA shelter and that no
one at PETA would even tell them what
had become of the animals. Local rescue
groups reported that PETA basically com-
petes with them, trying in many cases to kill the animals before
they can be rescued,” Mountain charged.
About six months after the Barakat expose appeared,
PETA in 2000 sent euthanasia technician Teresa Gibbs to the
no-kill Visakha SPCA, of Visakhapatnam, India, as a donated
“shelter manager.” Seeking to undo the Visakha SPCA no-kill
policy, Gibbs did severe harm to the organization’s donor,
staff, and community relations before being fired.
Gibbs then joined the Animal Birth Control program
managed by Ahimsa of Mumbai, and did similar damage.
“We do not advocate ‘right to life’ for animals,”
Newkirk handwrote on a post card to neuter/return and no-kill
sheltering proponent Nathan Winograd, who then directed the
Law & Advocacy Department for the San Francisco SPCA and
now does shelter consulting from San Diego.
A former criminal prosecutor, Winograd offered his
services pro bono to the North Carolina prosecution.
Animal advocates respond
“At a press conference following the arrest of the two
PETA employees,” the Best Friends web site editorialized,
“PETA president Ingrid Newkirk said, ‘PETA believes
euthanasia is the kindest gift to a dog or cat unwanted and
unloved.’ We simply couldn’t disagree more. The kindest gift
to a homeless animal is a good home.”
Wrote Friends of Animals legal director Lee Hall,
“FoA would like to state that the Ahoskie killings are not
euthanasia, and are a serious affront to animal rights. Animal
advocates have no business killing healthy sheltered animals.
People who engage in such conduct––regardless of killing or
disposal methods––convey the message that they and their sup-
porters have accepted a reprehensible practice.
“Alternatives to the cycle of breeding and killing do
exist,” Hall added, pointing out that FoA has subsidized steril-
ization of more than two million animals since 1957.
Wrote Kanak Roy, M.D. of the Animal Aid Alliance
in Virginia Beach, in a commentary typical of many that ANI-
MAL PEOPLE received from activists around the world, “I
have had disagreements with Newkirk in the past, but regard-
less of her troubling philosophy, I have continued to defend her
publicly. I have lobbied several local news commentators on
her behalf. However, the belief that PETA’s unconscionable
actions are in support of animal welfare, and the idea that they
are any way reducing suffering, is pathological.”