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PETA strikes out on 'Happy Cow'

Published on September 21, 2012 3:01AM

Last changed on October 19, 2012 9:29AM


The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals lost again in court recently. But that surely won't deter the world-class publicity hounds at the animal-rights group. When it comes to cooking up stunts aimed at blackening the eye of agriculture, medical research and other enterprises, they have no peer.

Witness the latest windmill at which PETA tilted. The group's lawyers sued the California Milk Advisory Board over its "Happy Cow" advertisements. PETA argued that the cows couldn't be happy and therefore the ads were inaccurate.

The California Department of Food and Agriculture, which knows a little more about animal agriculture than PETA, approved the ads and that's that. At least that's what the judge ruled. PETA called statements by CFDA officials on how dairy cows are cared for "self-serving." The judge called them "accurate."

These are not the best of times for the 271 employees of PETA and its 49 websites. The nonprofit organization was riding high in 2010 when it spent $927,733 on its 30th anniversary shindig at the Hollywood Palladium. TV star Alec Baldwin hosted the event, which was populated by such Hollywood denizens as Anjelica Huston, Pamela Anderson, Fred Willard, Eva Mendes and Charo. The bill for food and drinks alone was $219,023, and the nonprofit paid $452,450 for entertainment, which included Bryan Adams, according to the group's Internal Revenue Service Form 990.

Talk about party animals.

PETA has in recent years cooked up outlandish publicity stunts involving seminaked women dressing as fish and even came up with the idea for a pornography website to promote the organization. PETA's brain trust apparently thought the group had the moral authority to criticize a farmer for raising a Holstein or a fisherman for catching a trout while PETA used women as sex objects and promoted immoral acts.

And PETA has continued its "good" works. The interview with a porn star is still available on its website, as are references to "sea kittens" -- PETA-speak for fish. The group's bizarre attempt to argue in court that a killer whale has human rights is not mentioned prominently, but continuing attacks against the Sea World marine parks are.

But gone is PETA's three-star rating by the Charity Navigator website, which tracks nonprofit organizations. PETA is now rated one star out of a possible four stars.

PETA is also spending lots of money to raise money these days. According to its latest IRS Form 990, PETA spent $5.1 million last year to raise $30.2 million in contributions and grants. Even then, PETA spent about $5 million more than it took in -- a deficit about 10 times greater than the previous year's.

Times are tough, even for party animals and publicity hounds.


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