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PETA under fire for Donald Trump-inspired ‘Grab a pussy’ cat adoption campaign

The ad features a cat lying on its back with the words “GRAB A PUSSY! Adopt a cat from your local shelter,” printed above the feline. PETA/Handout

Animal rights organization People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is facing some backlash for its latest cat adoption campaign, which uses a lewd quote from presidential nominee Donald Trump, urging people to “grab a pussy!”

Last week, PETA launched the “purrvocative ad” with the hope it will “encourage New Yorkers to adopt one of the more than 20,000 cats taken in by city-run shelters each year.”

The ad features a cat lying on its back with the words “GRAB A PUSSY! Adopt a cat from your local shelter,” printed above the feline.

The campaign references a lewd comment Trump said to Billy Bush on an Access Hollywood video in which the GOP nominee bragged about kissing and grabbing women by their genitals.

READ MORE: Donald Trump trails Hillary Clinton by 8 points after tape scandal

“When you’re a star they let you do it,” Trump was heard saying on the video.

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Bush has since left his job at NBC’s the Today Show and is reportedly negotiating a multi-million dollar settlement.

WATCH: Carson Daly fills in for Billy Bush on “Today” after Bush was suspended indefinitely after a lewd 2005 conversation with Donald Trump surfaced. ET Canada has the latest.

In a blog post, PETA made several references to the race for the White House when explaining its latest adoption campaign.

“The sensationalism of this election has rendered many other important issues invisible,” PETA president Ingrid Newkirk was quoted as saying. “We hope this ad will encourage people to think for a second about the crisis facing cats and other animals and — if they have the time, love, patience, and funds to do so — to consider opening their homes to one or two beautiful cats from a shelter.”

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The animal rights group came under fire on social media following the launch of the campaign.

“I love and support your work and I implore you to please take this down and apologize for it. This joke is highly insensitive,” Jayson Flores tweeted at PETA. “Your work is too important for this. You need to cut association with that phrase and its true meaning as quickly as possible.

“I say this with compassion for animals above all else, because the longer this stays up the more you’ll have to answer for,” Flores wrote in a series of tweets.

PETA responded, defending its use of the words.

READ MORE: Donald Trump lauds release from ‘shackles’ as Republicans abandon him

“PETA takes both issues seriously but the sensationalism of this election has rendered many other important issues invisible,” the group tweeted. “As an animal rights org, we have an obligation to draw attention to the fact that cats are dying on the street & in shelters. We took something hideous and made it into something good. Outrage is not enough, action is everything.

“We hope this word twist will lead ppl to open their minds to the crisis facing animals & open their homes to cats in shelters,” PETA wrote in a series of tweets.

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However, Flores fired back saying the twist on words is a trigger for victims of sexual assault.

“And instead you’ve triggered victims of sexual assault and deterred even more people from listening to what you have to say,” Flores wrote.

Flores wasn’t alone criticizing the choice of words.

“For an organization that fights against abuse of animals, you sure have no problem trivializing a statement made about abusing women,” another Twitter user wrote.

“Id probably be more inclined to adopt a cat if you didn’t take violence against women so lightly,” Emily Noel tweeted.

Others welcomed the PETA campaign.

“Turn something negative into something positive!!! I have grabbed a lot of pussy’s – 10 to be exact!!” Bree tweeted.

“Brilliant ad…absolutely brilliant,” Kristen E chimed in.

In a statement, PETA distanced itself from the race for the White House.

PETA supports animal rights, opposes all forms of animal exploitation, and educates the public on those issues,” the group said. “It does not directly or indirectly participate or intervene in any political campaign on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate for public office or any political party.”

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