PETA contacts protesters on Facebook, informing them of organizer’s past

Organizer Camille Hankins, wearing a green No Kill shirt, holds a sign in protest outside of PETA headquarters in Washington, D.C., on Monday, July 15, 2013. (WTOP/Megan Cloherty)

WASHINGTON – A group of protesters holding a demonstration against the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals say attendance was low because PETA threatened participants on the event’s Facebook page.

PETA says it did not threaten the protestors, but informed participants on the social networking site.

Protest organizer Camille Hankins says 179 people had replied on Facebook they’d be part of a no-kill demonstration outside of PETA‘s Washington headquarters at noon Monday. Less than 10 of them showed up. Hankins says she knows why.

“They systematically went through my Facebook contacts and all of the people that are listed as attending the event page and posted them pictures from the court case, told them I was a crazy hoarder,” Hankins says.

Hankins admits she has a past with the organization. The two parties went to court 18 years ago in South Carolina over the condition of animals in a sanctuary Hankins says she discovered, and PETA says she ran. Hankins lost the case and was found guilty of ill treatment of animals.

PETA released this statement in response to Monday’s protest:

“The ‘no-kill’ movement is responsible for animals being shunted into cruel hoarders’ homes, where the luckiest ones are those who survive only until the hoarder is raided. In fact, the protest against PETA is being organized by convicted animal hoarder Camille Hankins,” the release says.

PETA has a page devoted to Hankins. PETA confirms it shared the link to the page with those invited to Monday’s protest via Facebook, says PETA spokeswoman Jane Dollinger.

Hankins, who represents No Kill New York, says that case is in the past.

“They blogged about me and about the case saying the demo was being organized by somebody who just has a grudge against us. If I had a grudge against them, why did I wait 18 years to have a demo in front of their place? Was I just stewing all those years?” Hankins says.

Protest attendee Vickie Brown says she received a message on Facebook from PETA HQ.

“It was about Camille but it was also about how great PETA’s shelter is in Virginia,” Brown says.

The No Kill group held the protest to call attention to PETA’s shelter in Norfolk, Va., which the group says kills 97 percent of the dogs and cats taken in.

A recent article in The New York Times highlighted the controversy over euthanasia at PETA’s Virginia animal shelter.

PETA openly defends its choice to euthanize animals who are “too old, aggressive, injured, or sick to be adopted into new homes.”

In the release PETA says, “thousands upon thousands of homeless dogs and cats, especially those in wretched condition, are being turned away from facilities so full that the animals inside them become ill.”

As many animal rights organizations, including The Humane Society, have changed their operations towards the no-kill mentality, Hankins says they want the same action out of PETA.

“No one wants PETA to close … What we want is we want for them to stop the killing. We want an animal rights organization to honor the inherent right to life that animals have,” Hankins says.

Hankins says many of her contacts have reported PETA’s actions to Facebook. The large number of no-kill supporters were in Washington following a No Kill conference held in the District this past weekend.

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