February 6, 2015
'PETA Kidnapped And Killed My Dog,' Says Distraught Pet Owner

PETA kidnapped and euthanized a family pet, according to various reports and a seemingly damning home surveillance video.

In the four-and-a-half minutes of footage, a 3-year-old chihuahua named Maya is coaxed off her owner's property with treats, but after accepting the treats, she returns to the porch. At this point, a woman from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals can be seen stepping onto the property to grab the dog.

She then places Maya in the back of the PETA truck, unaware that Wilbur Cerate had home surveillance footage of the entire incident. He recognized the woman as a representative from the animal rights organization who had previously been to his home to talk to them about Maya.

Cerate called and asked for Maya's return but couldn't get a straight answer as to where she was or what had happened. At first, the organization said it did not have the dog. However, when informed there was home surveillance footage showing they took her, Cerate said, "They hung up."

Before Cerate could get Maya back, she had been euthanized. He later told PilotOnline that a representative from PETA came to his trailer with a fruit basket "as a token of apology."

While Cerate is limited in his English speaking abilities, family friend and tax business owner Edward Armstrong attests that Maya was a "well-trained" dog, noting that she "wouldn't leave the porch."

Accomack Sheriff Todd Godwin, upon seeing the footage and hearing about Maya's death, charged the workers involved with larceny.

"If it was me or you who did something like that," he said in comments to PilotOnline, "PETA would eat us up."

Unfortunately for Cerate, Commonwealth of Virginia attorney Gary R. Agar saw no basis for criminal charges, noting that there had been some livestock threats posed by smaller animals in the area.

"Unfortunately the Chihuahua wore no collar, no license, no rabies tag, nothing whatsoever to indicate the dog was other than a stray or abandoned dog. It was not tethered nor was it contained.... More clearly stated, with the evidence that is available to the Commonwealth it is just as likely that the two women believed they were gathering abandoned and/or stray animals rather than stealing property (dog) of another. Indeed, it is more probable under this evidence that the two women associated with PETA that day believed that they were gathering animals that posed health and/or livestock threat in the trailer park and adjacent community. Without evidence supporting the requisite criminal intent, no criminal prosecution can occur."
After what many feel is an unjust outcome, the story continues to thrive online, hitting the No. 1 slot on Reddit Friday with more than 4,000 comments.

Do you believe dismissing criminal charges against the PETA workers was unjust, or did the organization act fairly?