Approximately 1.5 million cats and dogs are euthanized each year in the United States, many due simply to a lack of available homes. Meanwhile, over 100,000 healthy horses are shipped to slaughter in Canada or Mexico annually, including an estimated 10,000 from the Thoroughbred racing industry.
Official U.S. records indicate that roughly one million animals are used in government and private experiments each year – with these numbers including only dogs, cats, rabbits, nonhuman primates, and other species covered under the Animal Welfare Act (AWA). Many millions more – particularly mice and rats – are subjected to tests but not covered by AWA.
My late husband Greg and I adopted 17 rescued animals over 23 years together – eleven cats, four dogs, and two horses. Many of these were particularly challenging cases – two 80-pound street dogs, a heartworm-positive senior dog, and a badly starved former racehorse – all of whom Greg enthusiastically took in because he knew they had nowhere else to go. I continue to live with six of the animals Greg and I rescued together, plus another former racehorse I rescued after Greg’s death.
For many years, Greg and I also supported numerous animal advocacy organizations in their work to end animal suffering – including programs to promote companion animal spay/neuter and adoption, and advocacy for animals used in labs and entertainment.
The Gregory J. Reiter Memorial Fund has made major grants annually since 2016 to support the many programs of PETA’s Cruelty Investigations Department / Community Animal Project and its Cruelty in Horse Racing Campaign. The Fund has also made major grants to the White Coat Waste Project for its work to rescue animals from taxpayer-funded experiments, and to Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary for its work to rescue abused and neglected farm animals.
In recognition of Greg’s exceptional commitment to animal rescue, PETA established the Gregory J. Reiter Animal Rescue Award, which has been issued each June beginning in 2016.
“Veganism could save the world,” proclaims a recent article in the influential Science magazine, on the subject of world hunger and food security.
In the United States alone, according to USDA statistics, over 9 billion farm animals are slaughtered for food each year – most of them as babies. Meanwhile, extensive analyses by respected organizations such as Chatham House have documented that human consumption of meat and dairy products is a major driver of climate change. Vegetarians and vegans save at least one animal life each day, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, save water and forest land, and enjoy numerous personal health benefits too!
My late husband Greg and I stopped eating mammal meat during the first year of our marriage in 1992, after driving past a filthy and densely populated cattle ranch which led Greg to dream of a steer telling him to stop eating beef. We then went vegetarian in the year 2000, inspired by an educational tour of the northern California farm animal sanctuary Animal Place. Greg and I became full ethical vegans in 2009, discontinuing egg and dairy consumption as we learned about cruel practices in those industries – and also gradually replacing our leather, down, and wool clothing and furniture. Greg’s vegan shoe collection was well known in his office – so much so, that his colleagues’ remarks on this were included in his Washington Post obituary.
The Gregory J. Reiter Memorial Fund has made grants in 2016-18 to the Animal Place Food for Thought program, which provides resources to help organizations adopt animal-friendly menu policies for their events. The Food for Thought program initially focused on shelters; the Greg Fund grants have expanded the program to wildlife and environmental organizations.
Are you interested in going vegan – or cutting back on consumption of animal products? A few of many helpful resources include Meat Free Mondays, the PETA Vegan Starter Kit, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine Vegetarian Starter Kit, and the Happy Cow guide to vegetarian and vegan restaurants.
The National Wildlife Federation and Center for Biological Diversity, among many others, identify habitat loss as the primary threat to wildlife survival – with key drivers including animal agriculture, land development, and pollutants such as pesticides and fertilizers.
The Gregory J. Reiter Memorial Fund has made grants in 2016-18 to the Animal Place Food for Thought program, to help North American wildlife and environmental organizations adopt vegan or vegetarian menu policies for their events. As of April 2018, ten wildlife and environmental organizations have received grants through the Fund’s partnership with the Food for Thought program.
In 2016, the Gregory J. Reiter Memorial Fund also made two grants to Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy (Leesburg, VA, USA). One grant helped Loudoun Wildlife work with their County government to protect green infrastructure in its Ten Year Plan. The Fund also sponsored Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy’s 2016 annual meeting all-vegan meal for 150 participants, which was calculated to save 55,000 gallons of water, 1,500 square feet of forest, 50 animal lives, 2,000 pounds of grain, and 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide!