Everyone wants a beautiful handbag, but would they want it if they saw behind the scenes of its’ creation? That is what protestors from the animal rights organization People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, tried to demonstrate when they crashed the Coach Runway Show in New York City on September 7th. Two activists from PETA stormed the runway to protest the use of real leather in Coach handbags. One protester had body paint on that resembled skinned flesh and muscle with the words “Coach Leather Kills” across the chest, while the other held up a sign that read the same slogan. The woman in the paint walked off as the woman with the sign was grabbed by staff and dragged backstage as celebrities in attendance, like Jennifer Lopez and Lil Nas X, looked on.
However, this is not PETA’s first run-in with Coach. PETA published investigative video from the Nongovernmental Organization Reporter Brasil that showed cattle being branded on the face, electroshocked, and beaten on several different ranches in Brazil that supply JBS S.A, the largest leather processor in the world. Video showed calves being dragged away from their mothers and forced into chutes, having the animals trampling on top of each other before finally being sent to slaughterhouses.
PETA claims that millions of cows are slaughtered every year in JBS slaughterhouses in Brazil, as well as claiming that it takes three adult cows’ hides to make one leather interior for a car. Now, Brazil has government regulations on slaughterhouses and on the ethical treatment of animals, however, they are hardly enforced. As of June 2022, the Brazilian Senate has been in the process of passing the “Self-Control Bill.” This would allow meat companies to self-impose their own animal welfare regulations, which animal rights organizations have been combatting hard against since the inception.
PETA has no problem calling out companies or people over animal rights and it has caused some backlash. For example, No. 2 ranked tennis champion Carlos Alcaraz was reprimanded by PETA for attending a bullfighting show in his native country of Spain. They received some support for this, however, other people on social media platform X responded negatively by saying things such as “Bullfighting is culture, not torture.” Another comment is “Says the company that kills dogs,” a reference to how PETA euthanizes the majority of the animals it takes into its shelters. The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) claims that PETA took in 2,886 animals in 2022 and euthanized 2,130 of them. That means 74% of the animals taken into PETA’s care were killed, while the VDACS also says only 3% of animals in PETA’s shelters were successfully adopted. This has caused the American Kennel Association to express outrage with PETA which prides itself on animal rights and has caused many to wonder if the company is really doing the right thing when it comes to protecting animals, as they say.
But PETA seems to have gotten what it wanted out of its “runway takeover” as news organizations such as CNN, Sky News, and Glamour have all published stories about the antics in NYC. The organization themselves have also promoted the event on their various social media accounts. With millions of people seeing the events of that evening, and many differing opinions on the true goodness behind the organization, one thing that is for sure is that PETA remains as controversial as always.
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