PETA asks town to consider 'Sanctuary Beach'

“At first I was upset by it,” Slaughter Beach Mayor Harry Ward said. He got a letter from PETA – People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals – suggesting Slaughter Beach change its name.

“But when I settled down a bit and thought it over, they’re giving us a lot of good press,” he said.

The animal rights group emailed him asking for the town to change its name to “Sanctuary Beach,” as a “more compassionate alternative.”

“Whether the town is named after a stream, the slaughter of natives or the tides that leave many horseshoe crabs stranded and vulnerable to the hot sun and predators, the term ‘slaughter’ is defined as killing animals for food or killing people or animals in cruel and violent ways,” wrote PETA President Ingrid Newkirk. “Not only is this a more compassionate alternative to slaughter, it would also reflect the beach’s status as an official horseshoe crab sanctuary.”

Slaughter Beach was founded in 1681. The truth is no one knows how it got its macabre name, but the most likely theory is that it was named after a family of early settlers. The first postmaster was named Slaughter.

There are a slew of other theories, however, ranging from bloody Native American battles to a pig “slaughter” that occurred when a boat carrying them sank offshore.

Regardless, Ward, who has been mayor of Slaughter Beach for about three years, said the town will not be changing its name.

“All of the comments I’ve received from the community were, ‘Thank you for standing up to PETA, we don’t want a name change,’” he said. “If we were to think about changing it, it wouldn’t be driven by an outside influence.”

PETA representative Hannah Kinder said an anonymous Slaughter Beach resident prompted the organization to suggest the change.

“We have members reach out to us all the time,” she said. “A resident came up with this idea and we put it out there, but after the mayor’s reaction the member doesn’t want to be involved anymore. We just hope that community members who agree with the name change would speak up.”