As we write this, two employees of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) — a group with the self-proclaimed mission of “total animal liberation” — are sitting in a North Carolina courtroom facing 21 charges of Cruelty to Animals and 3 counts of Obtaining Property By False Pretenses. On June 15, 2005 the defendants — Andrew Cook and Adria Hinkle — were caught by police throwing bags full of dead animals into a shopping-center dumpster. Workers at local animal shelters are expected to testify that Cook and Hinkle had collected the animals earlier that day on the promise that PETA would find them adoptive homes.

JoAnn Jones, who heads a homeless pet adoption group, had this choice quote about the trial in today’s News and Observer (Raleigh):

Considering how extreme PETA tends to be, isn’t the fact that they’re euthanizing animals and throwing them in a dumpster, isn’t that bizarre? Contradictory?

While PETA has been quick to denounce the way Cook and Hinkle disposed of the dead animals, it has yet to condemn the two for killing them in the first place. That’s strange since this is a group that equates dogs to boys, and won’t even approve of the necessary use of rats for the sake of life-saving medical research.

In fact, PETA’s lawyer — Phil Hirschkop — has publicly defended widespread euthanization, claiming that the conditions in shelters can be so bad and the prospects of finding the animals homes can be so slim that they would be better of dead.

On the first point, for a member of PETA, saying an animal would be better off dead than living in a shelter is the same thing as saying it’s better for an orphan to be dead than to have to live in an orphanage. A pronouncement like that doesn’t seem to square with the notion of animal or human rights.

Second, workers at shelters in and around where the crime took place have been quick to dispute the idea that they can’t find strays suitable caretakers. Notably, JoAnn Jones also told the News and Observer, “We have a lot of dogs that are sleeping in beds, riding in cars and living the good life.”

If you picked up today’s New York Times you might have caught our subtly-worded ad for PetaKillsAnimals.com, where we’ll be posting updates on the trial all this week.