Business at an animal-friendly shopping center in Austin, Texas, has “gone to the dogs.”

News 8 Austin reports a strict rule imposed on tenants of the plaza a few years ago – that no meat or animal products be sold – has prompted an exodus. A Chinese restaurant and a bakery closed. A bridal shop relocated, and word on the street is a popular burger joint is following suit.

Nancy Owen, owner of Alegra’s Bridal and Invitations, told the news channel she was informed she could not exterminate her ants but must “relocate” them.

“I couldn’t believe my ears. I thought I was mishearing what they were saying,” Owen said. “I can’t run a business with ants crawling all over my hands and my customers.”

Other businesses have learned to adapt. A vision shop and shoe repair stopped selling leather products and a liquor store gave up the caviar in its gift baskets.

According to News 8, Houston resident Jeanne Daniels owns the Tarrytown Shopping Center. Daniels is an active member of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

A PETA spokesman described the concept behind the rigid rule as “compassion.”

“Other animals are made of the same stuff human beings are – flesh, blood and bone. They feel the same range of emotions we do and physiologically they feel pain in exactly the same way we do,” News 8 quotes Bruce Friedrich as saying.

Owen, who closed up shop last weekend, believes in a pecking order.

“It’s fine to be kind to animals, but I think it is more important to be respectful to your neighbors, your human neighbors,” she said.

Daniels did not return the news channel’s calls for comment.

PETA is known for its headline-grabbing campaigns on behalf of animals. In April, the animal-rights group, which claims “750,000 members and supports” offered the town of Hamburg, N.Y., $15,000 in veggie burgers if it officially changed its name to “Veggieburg.”

A PETA campaign called “Holocaust on Your Plate” compared chickens slaughtered at factory farms to the Jews annihilated in Nazi death camps.

“Just as the Nazis tried to ‘dehumanize’ Jews by forcing them to live in filthy, crowded conditions,” said a PETA press release relaunching the campaign in February, “animals on today’s factory farms are stripped of all that is enjoyable and natural to them and treated as nothing more than meat-, egg-, and milk-making ‘machines.'”

PETA also condemned the U.S. military’s use of dolphins and sea lions in the Iraq war to help clear underwater mines.

Related articles:

Hamburg urged to change name to Veggieburg

PETA slams use of dolphins in war

PETA likens chickens to Holocaust victims

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