Controversial animal rights group, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), scored big last week when Gospel star Dewayne Woods, made famous by his 2007 hit song "Let Go," became the first major gospel artist to serve as a spokesperson for the organization.
Woods, who appears in a two-minute video on PETA's website with his dogs Bailey and Brach, speaks out against the chaining of dogs, which according to PETA, continues to be a problem in some parts of the U.S.
"I really wanted to join in with PETA because I've always grown up with animals and I just felt like animals were always just like family to me," said Woods in the video. "… To know that people are chaining, they are using dogs to fight, number one that's just cruel within itself because now you're teaming a breed against each other and it's just not showing love," he said.
The "Let Go" star also speaks out against the poor treatment of animals performing in circuses and encourages parents to teach children empathy for animals.
"I always call my dogs kids and so anytime a child can associate that type of love of an animal as they would with another human being, I definitely think that's going to kind of help our culture as we are going along," he says. "Of course in the Bible, God gave man dominion over animals… I definitely believe that dominion is not taking it and beating them but just showing them the way. Showing them that you love them, that you are concerned about them, you want to watch them grow up to be the best animals that they could possibly be."
In a telephone interview with The Christian Post on Thursday, Teresa Chagrin, PETA's animal care and control specialist, said they were thrilled when Woods reached out to them to support their work.
"He's just really interested in seeing our society show more compassion for animals," Chagrin said. "He's a well-known, popular religious figure and we are thrilled that he is working to encourage compassion for animals," she added.
As a stage actor and gospel singer, Woods is the recipient of four Stellar Awards. He joins a long list of musicians and other celebrities such as Simon Cowell, Taraji P. Henson, Paul McCartney, Angela Simmons, Russell Simmons, Wendy Williams, and others who have teamed up with PETA to promote compassion for animals.
Known for their controversial stunts to attract media attention, PETA has also drawn the ire of several celebrities who have fallen victim to their tactics.
Last year the group flour bombed reality star Kim Kardashian, which forced her sister Khloé, who had posed for the organization's anti-fur campaign, to pull her support for their work. "I will no longer support PETA. Bullying and harassment is NEVER a solution, and I won't be a part of any organization that thinks otherwise," she wrote on her website.
PETA's other media-grabbing antics include throwing a tofu pie at Vogue editor Anna Wintour for promoting fur in her magazine and supporting protest groups of topless women and half-naked men mimicking Spain's Running of the Bulls.
Despite the criticisms, however, the organization remains unapologetic. "We will do extraordinary things to get the word out about animal cruelty because we have learned from experience that the media, sadly, do not consider the terrible facts about animal suffering alone interesting enough to cover. It is sometimes necessary to shake people up in order to initiate discussion, debate, questioning of the status quo, and, of course, action," said the group in a response on its website.