St Kitts government blasts PETA

BASSETERRE, St. Kitts, April 23, 2008 – The St Kitts government has blasted People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) for its attempt to boycott tourism to the island, describing the move as “outrageous” and “unjustifiable”.

PETA had called for a boycott on travel to the Caribbean island because it claimed that the Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine there was deliberately mutilating and killing sheep, donkeys, and goats in it practical sessions. It had asked government officials to investigate the veterinary school for violations of the island’s Protection of Animals Act.

But in a statement issued yesterday, the Tourism Ministry said the government had determined that the university “is not in violation of any current laws of the Federation of St Kitts and Nevis governing the treatment of animals”.

“The government is disappointed in PETA’s call for a boycott of St Kitts tourism which we interpret as an unjustifiable attempt to destabilise the economy of a small but sovereign country. We see this action by PETA as an unreasonable public relations measure to attract attention for their own benefit and to force the intervention of the government into a dispute between two privately owned and operated organisations, both of which are headquartered in the United States of America and which operate under US laws,” the statement said.

“The citizens of St Kitts and Nevis are peaceful, hardworking and law-abiding and do not condone any acts of cruelty anywhere to animals or humans alike. Any insinuation by PETA that our government and people think or behave otherwise is a gross misrepresentation of our proud Caribbean culture and traditions.”

It continued that while the government respects PETA’s right to address issues, “their methods in this situation have been outrageous and have disrespected the fact that St Kitts and Nevis is an independent and democratic nation with its own laws”.

“The government urges PETA to avoid any further escalation of their threats against the international integrity and economic security of St Kitts and Nevis,” it said.

At least one travel agency has signed on to PETA’s boycott campaign.

Holiday Systems International has said it will not allow it’s over 300,000 clients the option of booking St Kitts through the company “until such time (as) their government demonstrates a more civilised respect for animal welfare and Ross University builds a veterinary teaching hospital and adopts the recommendations outlined by PETA”.