Ingrid Newkirk, Inspirational Woman
International Women’s Day celebrates the achievements of inspirational women. No woman is more inspiring or has achieved more for animals than PETA founder Ingrid E Newkirk. We’re honoured to know her and thankful for her tireless devotion to helping animals. Here is her story:
Ingrid was born in Surrey and lived in Europe until she was 7 years old, when she and her parents moved to India. She has always been drawn to animals and often rescued abused cattle and stray dogs during her childhood. After moving to the US, she served as a deputy sheriff, a Maryland state law-enforcement officer for 32 years and a director of cruelty investigations for the Washington Humane Society/SPCA (the second oldest humane society in the US). She currently serves in an advisory capacity on numerous animal protection boards.
Ingrid’s efforts lead to the passage of legislation to create the first spay-and-neuter clinic in Washington, DC. She coordinated the first arrest and conviction in US history of a scientist on cruelty-to-animals charges and helped pass the first anti-cruelty law in Taiwan. Other firsts include the first felony charges of cruelty involving a factory farm after PETA US conducted an investigation at a pig farm in North Carolina and the first felony charges of cruelty to factory-farmed birds as a result of a PETA US investigation of turkey farms in West Virginia.
She spearheaded the closure of the US Department of Defense’s underground “wound laboratory” and the closure of the largest horse slaughterhouse in North America, and she has initiated many other successful campaigns against animal abuse, including ending all crash tests on animals in the US. Her investigation of the Indian leather trade was covered by the BBC’s Women’s Hour, among other shows. She has spoken at innumerable college campuses and national symposia and addressed the international peace conference in the Middle East in 2005.
She’s the author of 10 books, including her latest, The PETA Practical Guide to Animal Rights, as well as One Can Make a Difference, which includes essays by Sir Paul McCartney, Moby, The Reverend Al Sharpton, Helen Thomas, Sean Astin and other people who have done positive things in life. Her other books include Let’s Have a Dog Party!, 50 Awesome Ways Kids Can Help Animals, Making Kind Choices, The PETA Celebrity Cookbook, Animal Rights Weekend Warrior, You Can Save the Animals, Kids Can Save the Animals and 250 Things You Can Do to Make Your Cat Adore You.
Ingrid’s campaigns to promote cruelty-free living have made the front pages of virtually every newspaper in the UK and have also been featured in The Times of India, The Washington Post and countless magazines and other periodicals. She was named a top businessperson of the year by Fortune magazine and “Washingtonian of the Year” by The Washingtonian. She has been profiled in The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine and Time and twice in People, and she was also featured in Forbes magazine. She has appeared on The Colbert Report, The Today Show, The Oprah Winfrey Show, Larry King Live, Politically Incorrect, Crossfire, Nightline, 60 Minutes, Voice of America and 20/20, among others, and she enjoys a lively debate and the opportunity to show how easy it is to make animal-friendly choices. She has been the subject of two documentaries: the BBC’s Ingrid Newkirk: The Naked Revolutionary and HBO’s award-winning I Am an Animal.
“Animals have all the enemies imaginable – people who think nothing of taking their lives, stealing their young and denying them everything that is natural and important to them. They need all the friends they can get”, she says. “Anyone with compassion for animals, with empathy, is their ambassador to the human world.”
Who will you be celebrating today?