Controversial animal rights group PETA is proposing a new billboard in Hamilton linked to the case of a local family that lived with their husband and father’s corpse in a home for months.
In a news release, the group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals links the death of Hamilton man Peter Wald with people who keep meat in their homes to eat.
"PETA is alerting nearby residents that corpses could be hidden in plain sight in other homes, particularly in kitchen refrigerators," the news release reads. "PETA is negotiating with Hamilton-area advertisers to place a billboard that proclaims, "Are There Corpses in Your Home? Time to Go Vegan."
Kaling Wald, the dead man’s wife, pleaded guilty earlier this week to failing to notify police or the coroner that her her husband had died from an illness that wasn’t being treated.
Wald's lawyer, Peter Boushy, told CBC News that the Wald family believes the ad is "exploitative of a family tragedy."
"The proposed ad is hateful and absolutely insensitive," he said.
'People who are horrified, saddened, or surprised by the thought of cohabitating with a corpse should ask themselves how they can justify taking the lives of wonderful individuals who happen not to be human, and try going vegan.' - Ingrid Newkirk, PETA president
In a news release, PETA president Ingrid Newkirk says people who keep chicken breasts, steak and deli meats in their fridge are "sharing" their home with "corpses."
"People who are horrified, saddened, or surprised by the thought of cohabitating with a corpse should ask themselves how they can justify taking the lives of wonderful individuals who happen not to be human, and try going vegan," she is quoted as saying.
Wald died around March 20, 2013, according to summary of facts provided by Crown counsel Janet Booy. He had diabetes and was suffering from a foot infection, she wrote. Neighbours in the area told CBC News that Wald had been seen hobbling for some time before he stopped being seen in public.
When neighbours asked his wife about him, all she would say was he "was in God's hands now." The man refused to go to hospital, court heard Monday. According to court documents, the Wald family believed "God would cure him."
PETA spokesperson Dan Carron dismissed the idea that the billboard would be insensitive, instead calling it "thought-provoking."
"Our hearts and sympathies go out to this family," he said. "Nothing can be done right now to help that situation — but we can help animals," he told CBC Hamilton.
"We hope this billboard and message will create something good out of something bad."
City spokesperson Michael Kirkopoulos said there is nothing the City of Hamilton can do to prevent the ad from being put up. He said municipal bylaws only regulate the size and location of billboards, not the content.
Kaling Wald received a suspended sentence in connection with the case and an order to get counselling. She will be on probation for 18 months. The macabre case first came to light back in January, when Wald was arrested and charged with neglect of duty regarding a dead body and indignity to a body. The two charges were withdrawn and replaced with the single charge.
The sheriff found 51-year-old Peter Wald's body while trying to evict him and his family from their St. Matthews Avenue home in the city’s north end last year.