People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, is reaching out to Coast Guard members near its headquarters in Norfolk, Virginia, offering free rabies vaccinations and spay or neutering services during the partial government shutdown.
As a gesture to the service that decided in 2018 to stop using live animals in trauma training and rescued animals during Hurricane Florence, the animal rights nonprofit will provide the services to Coast Guard families and other government workers affected by the shutdown through its fleet of mobile veterinary clinics, according to a release.
PETA had named the Coast Guard its 2018 Agency of the Year after it decided to stop using live animals in military exercises. The service had used pigs or goats to simulate trauma, which included shooting and stabbing them and removing their limbs.
In asking the Coast Guard to stop the practice, PETA and several members of Congress argued that simulators could provide sufficient training for military personnel who might be exposed to combat injuries, accidents and disaster sites.
"[This] award was more than just kudos and a plaque -- it was a promise to have boots on the ground in times of need," said PETA President Ingrid Newkirk in a statement. "The Coast Guard has helped save the lives of so many animals, and it's an honor for PETA to help personnel care for their own animals during this unprecedented government shutdown."
In addition, PETA is sending free dog food to personnel in Cape May, New Jersey, home to the Coast Guard Training Center, where staff is working without pay and recent recruit graduates are have been sent home without pay.
Coast Guard families living in the Hampton Roads region of Virginia who wish to make an appointment for veterinary services with PETA can call (757) 622-7382, extension 3 and mention the shutdown offer or go on the PETA website to make an appointment.
-- Patricia Kime can be reached at Patricia.Kime@military.com. Follow her on Twitter @patriciakime.