According to the ASPCA, approximately 2.7 million cats and dogs are euthanized each year in the United States. Many of these are perfectly adoptable animals who meet this sad fate solely due to a lack of available homes. Meanwhile, the Humane Society of the United States reports that over 100,000 horses are sent to slaughter each year – 92.3 % of whom, according to the USDA, are in good condition and able to live out a productive life.
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 two badly starved horses – all of whom Greg enthusiastically took in because he knew they had nowhere else to go. I continue to live with nine of these animals.
Greg and I also gave major support to spay/neuter programs including PETA’s 2014 “Spay-a-thon”, preventing thousands of unwanted puppies and kittens from being born only to be abandoned.
In recognition of Greg’s exceptional commitment to animal rescue, PETA has established an annual Gregory J. Reiter Animal Rescue Award. This award is being issued by PETA’s Norfolk, Virginia-based Cruelty Investigations Department, which rescued horses Henry and Caroline who Greg and I adopted; oversees the Community Animal Project that cared for Itchy until he was surrendered to PETA and then given over to Greg’s and my care; and oversees the mobile clinics and spay/neuter programs that Greg and I supported.
The Gregory J. Reiter Memorial Fund has made grants in both 2016 and 2017 to support these many programs of PETA’s Cruelty Investigations Department.
“Veganism could save the world,” proclaims an April 2016 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 both 2016 and 2017 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 are now expanding 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.
In 2012, Greg and I purchased a small farm in Loudoun County, Virginia – one of the fastest developing counties in the United States – with the goal of protecting the land as a wildlife sanctuary. We planted hundreds of native plants, committed to non-use of pesticides, and posted ‘no hunting’ signs all around the perimeter of the property. In 2013-14 we identified the presence of many at-risk animal species on the property – bats, birds, snakes, turtles, frogs and more – and were certified as a Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy Audubon at Home Wildlife Sanctuary and a National Wildlife Federation Certified Wildlife Habitat. I moved to rural Maryland in early 2017, and look forward to managing my new property for the benefit of wildlife, as well.
The Gregory J. Reiter Memorial Fund made two grants in 2016 to Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy. The first was made to help Loudoun Wildlife work with the County government to protect “green infrastructure” in its Ten Year Plan.
The Fund was also a sponsor of Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy’s 2016 annual member meeting – providing attendees a delicious all-vegan meal and allowing the organization to make yet one more contribution to wildlife and environmental conservation. We calculated that this one vegan meal for 150 participants saved 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!