The controversial animal-rights group PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) is best known for attacking people wearing fur coats with buckets of red paint and for its revealing ad campaigns.
But instead of trying to keep animals alive, one Virginia man is saying that two women working for the group kidnapped his family’s pet Chihuahua, claimed to have it euthanized and then returned with a fruit basket to tell the family the bad news.
Wilbur Cerate, a Mexican immigrant who lives in rural Parksley on the Eastern Shore, said that when he returned home from work one day in October, instead of being greeted by the normal yipping and barking of the family’s beloved dog Maya, he was met by silence.
The entire family went searching for the dog but found no clues about what happened until Cerate checked his home surveillance camera’s video footage. The recording showed a vehicle with a PETA logo on it pull up to the family’s front yard. Two women emerged and snagged the unknowing pooch from the porch.
"I was angry. I understand they pick up my dog, if it was in a tree or another place, but this is in my house," Cerate said, according to the New York Daily News.
To add insult to injury, the women returned three days later – with a fruit basket of all things – to let the family know that Maya had been euthanized. Cerate says the women offered no proof of death nor Maya’s remains.
Accomack County Sheriff Todd Godwin charged the two purported puppy thieves with larceny as pets are considered personal property, but a local prosecutor declined to try the case because there was no evidence of criminal intent.
Calls for comment to PETA by Fox News Latino were not returned.
Cerate added that his daughter was devastated with the loss of Maya as the dog was the only thing that had cheered her since the family moved to the country from Mexico.
"She didn't want to go to school, she didn't want to do jobs, she's crying," Cerate told local media.