PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) has been trying to stop the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company's Pony Penning ever since the group formed. At one time it was urging members to show up in their boats to disrupt and prevent the pony swim by motoring back and forth across the designated swim lane across the channel. Authorities - the US Coast Guard, the National Park Service, and the Fish and Wildlife Services - were alerted, and that plan came to nothing.
On Thursday, after Butterfly Kisses untimely demise, PETA sent a letter asking the fire company to make 2018 (the 93rd annual Pony Penning event) the final year and to "adopt humane fundraising and herd-management methods in the future." PETA had previously contacted CVFC about ending the swim and auction in May. "This pony's needless death is the latest proof that continuing to pen ponies and auction off their foals makes the Chincoteague Fire Department look increasingly backwards, reckless and cruel," said Ingrid Newkirk, PETA president, in a news release. "PETA is calling on organizers to face up to the fact that times have changed and banish this sad spectacle to the history books before another pony is injured or dies." PETA claims that Butterfly Kisses was being chased into a pen by people who work with, or for, the CVFC when she slipped, fell, and died.
Denise Bowden, the spokeswoman for the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company (and a member of the city council), said on Tuesday, 31 July, that PETA's allegations are false as the pony was already in the pen, and was not being chased into it. Unfortunately, it's "just one of those freak things that happen; it could happen out in the wild. We are sorry it happened, but there was nothing anyone could've done to prevent it," Bowden said in a prepared statement. "I think PETA has a lot more issues around the country than our very successful event that has been happening for 93 years. Ponies live and die every day; some are due to illness or accident or injury. Our track record speaks for itself on how well cared for these ponies are."
Twice a year, there are two complete vet checks. At these times the ponies get de-wormed, vaccinated for rabies and eastern and western West Nile disease, hooves checked, teeth checked and much more. All of the ponies that live out in the wild on the Virginia side of Assateague are micro-chipped with meticulously kept records of each and every one. When one is reported to be injured,someone from the Pony Committee is on the scene within, usually, a half hour. If the pony needs more care, then the pony is brought over by trailer and seen by our vets. Same if a pony is sick. If the pony cannot recover, then the pony is humanely euthanized and given a proper burial, not just tossed out on the marsh. At auction, the vet decides which foals can leave their mares at which time. If they are too young, then they go back with their mares until the fall. When each foal leaves our care and goes with their new families, a Coggins test is done as well.
Once again, while these ponies mean a great deal to the Fire Company, the town, and the county financially, we are also human beings who see these gorgeous animals as the beautiful creatures they are, and we handle them with the care and respect they deserve. If we did not do this event, these animals would end up over populating, eat themselves out of house and home, and suffer diseases and injuries without any help at all. These are the facts about how we do what we do.
... Now, I'm just going to throw out some facts about PETA so everyone can be as educated as PETA thinks they are about us (the CVFC). Since 1998, PETA has killed more than 36,000 animals. 95.9 % of animals under PETA's care have been killed in just one year! Yes, one year! PETA has handed out literature to children with a graphic comic stating that "your Mommy kills animals," while also funding arsonist and terrorist groups. Their own president, Ingrid Newkirk, stated, "it would be lovely if we stopped this whole notion of 'pets' altogether." - Would really love to know if she has any pets herself - In October 2014, members of PETA drove their van to the small town of Parksley, Virginia, right here on the Eastern Shore, and stole a pet dog off the porch of a family home by coaxing the dog off the porch with treats. Within hours, the dog was killed. PETA broke two laws that day: larceny and euthanizing an animal before the 5-day hold period that is the law for kill-shelters. The family ultimately sued PETA; and PETA settled the case with the family by paying them $49,000.00.
In 2014, PETA killed 2,324 animals of the 2,626 it had acquired. It had a 1% adoption rate. A former PETA field worker testified that workers were misled in the field; they were told to lie as much as possible to gain access to any animal under the ruse that the animal would be sent out for immediate adoption, but instead were taken immediately to a kill room. One worker quit on the spot when witnessing healthy, vibrant animals in the kill room. Another former field worker testified that PETA's objective was to get as many animals as possible, and that the vast majority were then killed. She also testified that she was told to lie by her immediate supervisors to gain access to any animals, and then was told the same thing by PETA President Ingrid Newkirk.
So, my friends, there you have it. All of the information I have just provided can be found and verified at https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/killing-animals-petas-open-secret_us_59e78243e4b0e60c4aa36711 and at https://www.petakillsanimals.com/proof-peta-kills/
I truly believe that what the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company does is good, fair and caring. I have personally been involved going on 29 years. There are many others that have been involved longer than I have and many younger ones coming up through the ranks. Until you have been here, seen it with your own eyes, then we ask that you reserve your judgement until you do. I have done my homework and ask that PETA does theirs.
Denise P. Bowden
Public Relations Officer