They Made the Call to PETA that Saved Animals’ Lives

Farms exposed, labs closed, abusers busted – all because of whistleblowers

Gna Wyatt never intended to make headlines when she called PETA about the North Carolina dairy farm where she worked, which was so filthy that the cows had to wade through knee-deep manure in order to eat or lie down. She just wanted to help the animals. “I wanted somebody to see what I saw,” she said.

Thanks to Gna’s tip, they did. A PETA observer filmed the emaciated cows with their overgrown hooves, protruding bones, raw skin, missing patches of hair, and tails matted with dung, among other conditions, inside the disgusting facility. That video changed everything, prompting inspections by state authorities, persuading a buyer to halt shipments from the farm, and, shortly afterwards, leading the farm to close down.

Gna is among the wonderful whistleblowers who have helped PETA entities worldwide find out what’s going on out of public view on farms, in circuses, in laboratories, and at other facilities, leading to exposés, fines, charges, policy changes, and even the closure of animal-abusing enterprises.

Persistence in the Face of Resistance Pays Off

Whistleblowers come to PETA because they know they will get results. When postdoctoral veterinary fellow Catherine Dell’Orto got nowhere after reporting violations at Columbia University laboratories, including failure to provide adequate post-operative pain relief to monkeys and baboons subjected to invasive surgeries, she approached PETA. An aggressive PETA campaign led to the firing of the head veterinarian, citations and fines by the USDA, and an end to Columbia’s stroke experiments on baboons.

Bill Larsen tried for months to get help for the 151 “retired” racing greyhounds kept in an old barn in appalling conditions and used as “donors” for a canine blood bank. After other groups and governmental agencies didn’t respond, he called PETA. In a matter of weeks, PETA had shut down the facility, and the dogs were taken into foster care. On the first cold night of winter, Bill called to say how grateful he was that those dogs were no longer out there shivering in that cold barn.

The Man Who Helped PETA Bring Down the Big Top

The demise of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus was thanks in part to a whistleblower: Terminally ill former Ringling elephant trainer Sam Haddock couldn’t bear the thought of going to his grave without making good on his promise to his wife that one day he would share photos of the barbaric methods used to “break” baby elephants at Ringling’s training compound. So he had her leak the photos to PETA, which shared them with the media and displayed them outside circus performances – the rest is history.

Whistleblowers come from all sectors of society. PETA has been alerted to cruelty by school bus drivers, mail carriers, painters, electricians, janitors, neighbors, and passersby. Students in India blew the whistle when they saw that animal dissection was being conducted illegally at their universities, enabling PETA India to get it stopped. Alert witnesses in Germany filmed people abusing cows as they were being loaded into vehicles and shared the videos with PETA Germany, which got the abusers convicted and fined.

Take Action Now

If you see something, say something. Concerns about cruelty anywhere can be reported confidentially by e-mailing PETA at [email protected].

This article originally appears in our magazine, PETA Global. To begin your subscription, become a PETA member today!