Thursday, April 26, 2007

Fort Lauderdale Teen Wins PETA Award For Tireless Efforts To Defend Animals

'Street Teamer' Leads peta2's Local Charge Against KFC Cruelty, Despite Being Butcher's Son and One-Time Vegetarian Foe

Fort Lauderdale, Fla. — Seventeen-year-old Fort Lauderdale resident Michael DiMartino has won an "Outstanding Activist" Award from peta2—the world's largest youth animal rights organization—for his unrelenting fight to get KFC to stop its suppliers' worst abuses of chickens and for other animal-related heroics, including getting his school to cancel a pig-kissing contest.

At first glance, DiMartino might appear to be an unlikely candidate for an animal rights activist. His father is a butcher, and he chose to debate against vegetarianism in a 10th-grade public speaking class. But it was his preparation for that debate—in which he visited PETA's Web site to acquaint himself with his opponents' arguments—that began his transformation. After watching PETA's hard-hitting video "Meet Your Meat," DiMartino couldn't wait to join the ranks of his former vegetarian foes.

DiMartino organizes "KFC Cruelty" protests every chance he gets, including one in January, when KFC honchos held a regional meeting in Miami and were greeted by three lovely naked women standing behind a banner that read, "KFC Tortures Chicks." The KFC execs—and nearly all Miami media outlets—took notice. DiMartino isn't just a friend to chickens. When he learned that his school was having a pig-kissing contest, he organized a letter-writing campaign to explain to the administration that such exhibits are no fun for pigs, who are often terrified by the commotion and strange surroundings. Two days before the contest was scheduled to take place, the school announced that instead of using a real pig, a teacher would wear a pig costume and dole out kisses. The event was a great success.

"Michael knows that compassion is a sign of strength, and he's using his to fight animal suffering anywhere he can," says peta2's Street Team coordinator, Pulin Modi. "He's setting an example not only in his school and community but also for hundreds of thousands of other peta2 Street Teamers to follow."

DiMartino will receive a certificate for his efforts, and he is featured on as an inspiration to peta2's more than 220,000 "Street Team" members.

For more information, please visit or click here to learn more about Michael.

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