VA Family Says PETA Stole and Killed Their Dog

Maya, as pictured on the WAVY website.

Maya, as pictured on the WAVY website.

Maya the chihuahua was the beloved pet of the Cerate family who had moved to Virginia from Mexico.  The family’s little girl was particularly attached to Maya.  Mr. Wilbur Cerate was used to being greeted by Maya when he came home from work but one Saturday last month, the dog was not there to greet him.

Cerate checked his security camera and the video shows a van with “PETA” on the side back into his driveway. Two women got out of the van and one walked up his porch, took Maya, and put her in the back of the van.

Mr. Cerate says that three days later, the two women returned to his house with a fruit basket to tell him PETA had killed Maya.

*pauses while you go back to re-read “fruit basket”*

Mr. Cerate called the cops on their loopy asses.

Accomack County Sheriff Todd Godwin told WAVY.com he charged the PETA workers with larceny. He said pets are considered personal property. But the local commonwealth’s attorney told WAVY.com he dropped the charges because there wasn’t enough evidence to prosecute. He said the video does not show criminal intent, so he declined to take the case to court.

I didn’t go to law school but isn’t stealing a crime in and of itself, like with the “criminal intent” part automatically included?  PETA reportedly stole this family’s well loved pet, killed her, then returned to brag about it while shoving a fruit basket in their faces.  There is video evidence.  There is an admission of guilt.  The county sheriff brought charges.  But the commonwealth’s attorney can’t be bothered to do his job.

Maya’s little girl is heartbroken and her father says she no longer has any interest in school or other activities.  PETA hid when WAVY repeatedly contacted the group seeking comment.  Mr. Cerate wants to know why PETA stole and killed his family’s pet.  Tragically, the answer is that PETA operates a pet killing facility in VA and death is the outcome for almost every animal PETA takes.

Respectful letters requesting the commonwealth’s attorney pursue charges against PETA for the theft and killing of Maya can be e-mailed to commatt@verizon.net.

(Thank you Laura for the link.)

Leave a comment

68 Comments

  1. Holy shit. PeTA doesn’t have enough animals to kill, they need to go out and find more?

    They are fucking insane. The fact that the attorney won’t pursue charges – I wonder how much of that is “I can’t fight PeTA’s high priced lawyers, so what’s the point?”

    Reply
  2. Jody

     /  November 13, 2014

    What country is this?! That is absurd – I feel like I am in the twilight zone…..

    Reply
  3. Since they stole the dog and then killed her, then obviously they intended harm. And theft alone should be grounds for prosecution. The laws about stealing must be different in Virginia than they are in Maryland. My former home is under contract and currently vacant; the next-door neighbor dug up some trees in my yard; I called the police and met with someone in the state’s attorney’s office, and the trial will be in December.

    Poor Maya and her family. PETA must have an awful lot of clout in that area.

    Reply
  4. davydsmith

     /  November 13, 2014

    They need to get that video out. That will be shared widely. This is literally criminal. If it was mail, a porch chair, a floor mat, wouldn’t it still be theft? It should be taken more seriously because it was a family member, but even at the lowest compliance to the law, they trespassed, stole something and destroyed it. I feel like I am a little insane that I can’t understand what just happened.

    Reply
    • You are not alone. I tried to start this post 47 times before I actually got any words on the page. My brow could not possibly be more furrowed. To be frank, if this story was about anyone but PETA, I’d wonder if the news station was hoaxing us.

      Reply
  5. Sorry; I meant “…they obviously intended harm….”

    Reply
  6. Tonka

     /  November 13, 2014

    So, what was PETA’s “excuse” for taking the dog to begin with? How can they possibly justify this? I would love for this video and story to be released to the public and see it air in the news.

    Reply
    • WAVY includes the video in their newscast. Click the link to see it.

      I have to wonder how many VA families who don’t have security cameras at home have believed their missing pets “got lost” one day? This can not possibly be the first and only time PETA has brazenly stolen pets from the yards of local residences.

      Reply
  7. If you recall, it was a Commonwealth’s attorney who also declined to prosecute Michael Vick on dogfighting/animal cruelty charges.

    Reply
  8. Words escape me. This is a new low, even for peta. Obviously the attorney is not interested in doing the right/legal thing. Maybe he’s on peta’s payroll? I just don’t know.
    This is frucking crazy!!!
    Fruit basket???

    Reply
    • I am 100% committed to non-violence. And yet I dread to think if this had happened to me and one of my pets, where that fruit would have ended up before those PETA employees got out my driveway.

      Reply
  9. steven elliott

     /  November 13, 2014

    please ! don’t let these people off the hook this is theft to no matter how you look at it.the commonwealth attorney need to be fired and peta need to compensate the family for the dog that they stole .the little girl is heart broken.this is theft,theft,theft,all day long and don’t like it

    Reply
  10. I am…wordless. Ugh.

    Reply
  11. deborah simpkins

     /  November 13, 2014

    Absurd!!!!! everyone connected with this action should be terminated and NOT allowed to work with ANY animals in
    the future…..don’t know how much clout PETA has….but I think a petition is in order!!!!!

    Reply
  12. Allison

     /  November 13, 2014

    There Has to be more to this story; it makes no sense.

    Reply
    • One would assume PETA would be eager to tell its side of the story, being the media whore it is. And yet they hid from the local news. I am guessing they are in a hastily called Make Shit Up meeting right now.

      Reply
  13. della

     /  November 13, 2014

    If the enter my property to steal anything they are going to be met with Smith & Wesson. My two pets

    Reply
  14. I suggest we send respectful notes to the prosecutor. This could kill a decent career if he doesn’t do the right thing here. He may have no idea who he is dealing with. Once this gets shared on social media, he will wish he had done something a lot sooner. What a bunch of hateful criminals! PETA needs to be exposed for what they are. I just came back from an animal welfare conference in Orlando. Chatting with the woman working at the pearl kiosk at Universal (you buy oysters and get cultured pearls, very nice ones), she spotted my friend’s dog bone earrings, and told us that she had seen a stray dog in traffic, and caught it. First people she called was PETA . . . needless to say, we gave her a little gentle lesson on what they really are. We were as kind as we could be, but just for HER sake. She didn’t know.

    Reply
    • Lane Barry

       /  November 18, 2014

      You boast of attending an “animal welfare conference” where you bought oysters and harvested pearls. It’s amazing that you can connect those activities and then disparage PETA for its actions on behalf of animals. If those oysters could speak, I wonder what they would have to say about that.

      PETA and the authorities should respond to this public outcry for more information. This story is bizarre and disturbing, and the public deserves an explanation.

      Reply
  15. Catherine Samardza

     /  November 13, 2014

    Letters should go to the State’s Chief Prosecutor AND the Attorney General. Along with copies of the family’s statement, the video and the sheriff’s report. Go up the ladder OVER the local prosecutor’s head.

    Reply
  16. The county sheriff said “pets are considered personal property. But the local commonwealth’s attorney told WAVY.com he dropped the charges because there wasn’t enough evidence to prosecute. He said the video does not show criminal intent, so he declined to take the case to court.”

    They have VIDEO of PETA employees walking up to the man’s house and taking his dog FROM HIS PORCH, and that does not show intent?? Are you freakin kidding me? How much more proof does he need besides actual video footage and them walking up to his porch and taking his property? This is a whole new low for PETA and it is a new low for that attorney. He needs to be forced to do his d*mn job.

    In Texas, if someone enters onto your property and tries to take something, you are allowed to use deadly force to stop them. I’d hate to think what would happen to PETA employees if they walked onto my property and tried to take my pet. It would be ugly.

    Reply
  17. Karen F

     /  November 13, 2014

    The Commonwealth’s Attorney (an elective office) for the County of Accomack is Gary R. Agar.

    Reply
  18. Tina Clark

     /  November 13, 2014

    This is PETA people just going more deeply into their illness. Apparently, taking and killing animals under false pretenses from well-meaning but misinformed people, vets, and “shelters” is not bringing about an end to pets – their admitted goal – quickly enough for them, so now they are gong out and abducting them. Yes, this needs to be plastered throughout the media, social and otherwise, and letters written. I’m continually surprised every time one of PETA’s horrible acts is revealed, that there are so many people who say “I had no idea.” Everyone should know about PETA by now!

    Reply
  19. Karen F

     /  November 13, 2014

    Worth noting that the Cerates are Hispanic, and don’t appear to be affluent. I’m trying to imagine PETA doing this to an Anglo family in an affluent neighborhood. Coming up short.

    I’m also trying to imagine, if PETA did this to an affluent Anglo family, that the Commonwealth’s Attorney would wave off the video evidence. Coming up short there, too.

    Reply
    • vida

       /  November 13, 2014

      Bingo! I am seeing what you are. And it’s beyond disgusting all the way around.

      Reply
  20. Does anyone have the address and email address of the prosecutor? Please post it here. We will make sure that he hears from a LOT of people.

    Reply
  21. Karen, that is exactly what I was thinking. WE need to stand up for the Cerate’s and get justice for them and Maya.

    Reply
  22. That doesn’t make sense, Peta is an American animal rights organization based in Norfolk, Virginia, Their motto is, “animals are not ours to eat, wear, experiment on, use for entertainment or abuse in any way.” It also campaigns against eating meat, fishing, the killing of animals regarded as pests, the keeping of chained backyard dogs, cock fighting, dog fighting, and bullfighting. Sounds like an off beat random killing by some idiots to me.

    Reply
    • PETA operates a pet killing facility in VA. They support a pet’s right to live as much as I support trolling.

      Reply
    • wink wink. So tell us all, Cindy, how stealing a little Chihuahua from the owner’s porch just to kill it *isn’t* “abuse”. Just try, we are all paying attention. At least for the moment.

      Reply
  23. Karen F

     /  November 13, 2014

    Gary R. Agar
    Commonwealth’s Attorney
    Accomack County

    http://www.co.accomack.va.us/government/constitutional-officers/commonwealth-s-attorney

    Main Phone Numbers
    Office: (757) 787-2877
    Fax: (757) 787-8064

    E-Mail Address
    commatt@verizon.net

    Mailing Address
    P.O. Box 56
    Accomack, VA 23301

    Office Location
    23392 Front St.
    Accomack,VA 23301

    Reply
  24. Eucritta

     /  November 13, 2014

    I had difficulty with the video on Wavy.com, no idea why – it just wouldn’t display. On the off-chance someone else might also encounter this, here’s a link to the same vid on Wavy’s YouTube account:

    Reply
  25. Janice swaney

     /  November 13, 2014

    Going into their yard is tresspassing, stealing the dog is crime so and killing the fog is another. Then to come back with a fruit basket is again tresspassing and bragging about what they did is harassment. At the very least! If they can’t prosecute PETA for what they did, the state should fire those in charge and vote someone with guts to do their job. Go above those heads zed keep going till you get results.

    Reply
  26. This is what I tweeted. You might want to do the same. (It’s the right size.) If this goes viral, Mr. Agar will have a VERY bad day:

    @PETA steals, kills girl’s dog. Caught on video. No charges? Scream at prosecutor: Gary Agar; phone: 757-787-2877; email commatt@verizon.net

    Reply
  27. Karen F

     /  November 13, 2014

    Follow-up piece from WAVY:

    Reply
  28. Eucritta

     /  November 13, 2014

    I was just reading the comments to Raw Story’s article on this, and a couple of the commenters state that the owner/manager of the trailer park had given permission for PeTA to patrol the park for ‘strays,’ and this is why the video was deemed insufficient evidence of intent.

    This might at least explain the fruit basket. Because, hey – nothing says ‘So sorry we killed your dog’ like a pineapple.

    Reply
  29. Karen F

     /  November 13, 2014

    The authorization to pick up strays is mentioned in Anita Blanton’s follow-up piece, too. Perhaps the Commonwealth Attorney believes that, if I’m authorized to pick up litter in a trailer park, and I decide to come up into your particular trailer and take a valuable item lying there that resembles the things lying on the ground outside, there was no criminal intent.

    It doesn’t make any sense. And yet . . . I’m willing to bet that when they finally collect themselves enough to respond, PETA will spin this as a “mistake.”

    What haunts me is that this sweet, loved little dog was not the only victim who ended up in that van. There were obviously others, just as deserving, who had no homes at that time — but who should have found families, and not the needle.

    Reply
  30. Am I the only one questioning the legality of PETA going around and picking up “strays” period? Regardless of if the trailer park owner gave PETA permission to pick up strays, there has to be laws against it. And there are “found property” laws. Picking up a lost “item” isn’t against the law. Throwing it into a fire and destroying it without making any legal effort to return the “item” is.

    Reply
    • Tina Clark

       /  November 14, 2014

      That’s a good point. Although they do technically run a “shelter” since they are required to report their statistics to the state of VA, they are not animal control.

      Reply
      • I don’t think PETA’s location is licensed as a ‘shelter’ any more. The state inspector filed a report that the facility didn’t resemble any animal shelter he had ever inspected. That was about 2-3 years ago. Unless they changed something, threw some crates or kennels into the building, the only thing the inspector found was office space and euthanasia equipment, along with a large walk-in freezer.

  31. “Am I the only one questioning the legality of PETA going around and picking up “strays” period? ” Actually any property owner has the legal right to have animals removed from the property and even euthanized. There is also the question if pets were even allowed on the property, which if that was the case would also give the landlord the right to have them removed. I am no fan of PETA, but they do not go around stealing animals to euthanize them. The anger should be pointed toward the migrant slum lord. Did anyone notice the shack they are calling a house?

    Reply
    • Robert Hudson / November 14, 2014

      I am no fan of PETA, but they do not go around stealing animals to euthanize them.

      Apparently they do.

      The anger should be pointed toward the migrant slum lord.

      Thanks but I’ll direct my anger on my own. Also, IDK if you are attempting some sort of racial slur here bc what you wrote doesn’t even make sense but consider this a one time warning: no hate speech here.

      Did anyone notice the shack they are calling a house?

      Unless the house has been condemned by authorities and an order to vacate is on file, it’s a home. Whether it’s fancy enough for your standards is irrelevant.

      Reply
    • “Actually any property owner has the legal right to have animals removed from the property and even euthanized.”

      Not euthanized, no. That’s why stray hold laws exist.

      Reply
  32. And by the way, if anyone wants to talk to someone at PETA who can be held accountable, you should call Daphne Nachminovitch. She is the VP and runs the facility in Virginia and directly oversees their shelter in Virginia where they would be euthanized. This is the same shelter that Nathan Winograd is always talking about that has over a 90% kill rate. I actually interviewed Daphne to confront her on that subject on my radio show, (petradioshow.com) and she did bot deny anything. She admitted their kill rate is over 90% and they strongly believe stray animals, elderly, and sick animals should be euthanized, So if someone invites them to pick up stray animals from their property, they are going to do it. I still have her email address.

    Reply
    • Tina Clark

       /  November 14, 2014

      Robert Hudson: First of all, her name is Daphna, not Daphne. I’m not a peta defender and even I can get her name right, and you interviewed her. Second, you have nothing wrong with her belief that stray animals should be “euthanized”? Really? You’re ok with the fact that just because an animal doesn’t have a home at the moment that it’s ok to kill him/her? Not to mention that an elderly animal also has a right to live and a sick animal has a right to medical care (which would include true euthanasia if that animal is hopelessly suffering.) And thanks for offering the email address, but I think we all pretty much know what she is going to say. In fact, you just said it yourself. She doesn’t deny anything. And that’s supposed to make it right?

      Reply
  33. Presumably PETA defines “stray” as any animal they can get their hands on. I guess they have nothing else to do with their millions of dollars than to go on “patrol” for pets to kill. Christ on a bike, can you imagine being a pet owner who lives anywhere near these loons?

    Reply
  34. I practice law in NC so am not completely sure about VA, but can’t they go to magistrate’s office & swear out criminal complaint themselves? DA involvement shouldn’t be necessary at initial stage. Larceny of a dog is a recognized common law offense, as is destruction of personal property. A private citizen couldn’t get away with doing this — why should a private non-governmental organization be able to?
    Hope some VA atty. steps up to help them. This case is really puzzling. Can you post more details about it? The story needs to be publicized — there’s always the option of a civil suit if they don’t get anywhere w. criminal justice system. They shouldn’t give up — there has to be a way to correct such conduct.

    Reply
  35. LOL, what does my spelling have to do with anything? I am not defending PETA, I would just think you would want to report the facts, instead of hype. If you already know her name, why aren’t you email bombing her and flooding her with phone calls? Why don’t you give the TV station her name so they do not have to get the run around from PETA? The more factual you are, the more credibility you have. The dog was loose OUTSIDE, not tethered or fenced. PETA was asked to remove all the stray animals ny the property owner and that is what they did. That is a fact whether you like it or not. My interview with DAPHNA last year was very confrontational. As a pet welfare activist I was concerned about their 90% kill rate, their support of BSL, and their opposition to TNR of feral cats and she did not deny any of it.

    >>I practice law in NC so am not completely sure about VA, but can’t they go to magistrate’s office & swear out criminal complaint themselves? DA involvement shouldn’t be necessary at initial stage. Larceny of a dog is a recognized common law offense, as is destruction of personal property.<<

    As a lawyer you should know that people who rent have no property rights on the community property. The landlord has the legal right to remove animals from their property and has the right not to allow pets on the property in the first place. That is why the police said there was no criminal intent

    Reply
    • On the contrary, what you say may apply to the common area of rental property but not to private area rented by a tenant. There are several legal issues here & I hope someone will take them up. The dog owner may have a civil cause of action against the landlord for unlawfully arranging seizure of the dog.

      Reply
  36. Sheila J. Gross

     /  November 14, 2014

    None of the comments so far have mentioned that PETA employees were tried in North Carolina several years ago for picki9ng up ADOPTABLE PETS from veterinarians in NC, euthanizing them in the back of their van, and discarding the bodies in a dumpster behind a supermarket. Although the two employees apparently were not licensed in NC to possess the lethal chemicals found in their van, they ended up being convicted only of littering, IIRC!

    And don’t forget that PETA has no cages, or very few, at their headquarters, but a huge walk-in freezer, and that they consider any animal surrendered to their “shelter” to be better off dead than adopted out. Their kill rate has been as high as 97% in some years since 1998. People have reported changing their minds about surrendering their pets, going right back in within minutes of leaving, and being told that their animal has already been put down. You call that a shelter? I don’t! See http://www.petakillsanimals.com

    That kill rate of as much as 97$ means that they kill, on average, around 2,000 animals per year — mostly dogs & cats, but also other species — while the public shelter in the same town saves around 2/3 of the animals surrendered there. So, obviously, PETA *could* exert a little effort and SAVE 1,500 animals a year instead of KILLING 2,000 — IF THEY WANTED TO.

    Reply
  37. “Unless the house has been condemned by authorities and an order to vacate is on file, it’s a home. Whether it’s fancy enough for your standards is irrelevant.” Wow, I guess you are not much of a housing for the poor activist. What I was getting at, rather poorly I guess, is the character of the landlord who would order such a heartless act, and landlords who cater to the poor seem more apt to do this sort of thing. The land owner does however have the legal right to have sray animals removed from their property, and PETA is more than happy to oblige.

    Reply
    • The ice that you are on… so thin.

      Maya was not a stray dog. She was on her owner’s porch, waiting for him to come home.

      Reply
    • EmilyS

       /  November 15, 2014

      well Robert, even if what you say is true, how does “picking up strays” equate to “and then killing them”? The landlord has no right to take such action, nor to grant any such authority (and there’s no evidence he did). Under what authority did PETA kill this dog?

      Reply
      • You ask just the right question. Did local animal control delegate its authority to PETA? If so, did it have permission from local gov’t. officials to do so? Was PETA acting as an agent for local gov’t? (Very problematic) Or did landlord hire PETA either with or without compensation, just as one might hire a private pest control service? This really needs to be explored …

  38. >>On the contrary, what you say may apply to the common area of rental property but not to private area rented by a tenant.<< The dog was taken outside, not from inside the trailer. That is the common area. I am also a little surprised that apparently it does not bother anyone that this little dog was routinely allowed by its owner to roam free outside in a trailer park in the dead of winter with no protection from the cold

    Reply
    • OK, that tears it. You have no source for your claim, which is false as far as I know, that this dog was “routinely allowed by its owner to roam free outside in a trailer park in the dead of winter with no protection from the cold”. You’re just being hateful. Take it somewhere else.

      Reply
    • Eucritta

       /  November 14, 2014

      Actually, going by the video, Maya was taken from the covered patio adjoining the home, which appears to be a single-wide trailer. In my experience, the patio/porch and/or driveway of a home is not public or common space. This includes trailer parks; I’ve both family and friends who’ve lived/live in them, and the leases apply to the entirety of the space as designated in the plans to the park – not just the trailer itself – up to the common lane. In the video showing Maya’s abduction, the PeTA van appears to be parked along the common lane, while the woman who abducted Maya took her from the covered patio directly adjoining the trailer. In fact, she appears to walk under the awning covering the patio, past one of the supports. Maya does not appear to have left the patio at any time until bodily taken from it.

      In the more recent footage, the covered patio Maya was taken from is enclosed with boards. I expect this is the structure that led Mr Hudson to refer to the home as a ‘shack.’

      There is no mention in any of the reports so far that Maya lacked shelter, water or food, and in the photo she appears to be wearing a collar with a tag. Given the fruit basket, I think it’s reasonable to assume that a) the PeTA workers knew exactly where Maya had come from, and b) knew she wasn’t a ‘stray.’ She was taken and killed anyway.

      We now know that PeTA had permission to take ‘strays’ from the trailer park. That doesn’t make this okay. Maybe the owners/managers of the trailer park are asshats, maybe they’re saints. That doesn’t make it okay either. Truth is, *nothing* would make this okay.

      Reply
      • Catherine Samardza

         /  November 14, 2014

        And how does taking a collared, tagged dog from the property – from a covered patio adjacent to the trailer – equate to picking up a stray dog?

  39. Tina Clark

     /  November 14, 2014

    peanutbuttergrapevine, I didn’t realize that. Interesting. They still reported for 2013.

    Reply
    • To my knowledge, the state never pursued that issue. PETA is still designated a “shelter” AFAIK.

      Reply
      • PETA & its activities are a big complex issue — I think we should be concentrating on getting competent legal advice for the family in regard to claims or charges against both PETA & the landlord.

  40. Right, my parents owned rental property in VA when I was growing up. Landlords have ZERO right to come on the property without prior notification and consent (or paperwork after going through a legal process in court). Forget about removing ANYTHING from the property. That includes animals. Even if the animal was a violation of the lease.

    Would having the animal be cause for an eviction? Yes. But the landlord would have to go through the courts to do so! Any landlord removing and destroying property would be in jail with the renters owning the house by the time they got done in civil courts.

    And by the way, if PETS had ANY defense along those lines, we would have heard about it by now. That goes for any “abuse” or “neglect” of Maya. And that also goes toward the legality of them randomly picking up animals and killing them!

    Reply
  41. And regarding their “shack”: I think the plywood is a very recent addition. As in, a reaction to PETA stealing their dog. Look at where those two reepers steal Maya.

    It looks like a “normal” porch. And there is no enclosed area within view. The plywood also looks brand new. The type of plywood used appears the be the kind that grays fairly quickly in the weather.

    And for the record, the front/side/back yards and driveway are not considered “community property”. Those are private. As is anything covers by a roof. Including a porch. Pro tip: if it illegal for you to pick up and take a package from there, it is illigal for you to pick up an animal and say it was a “stray”.

    Reply
  42. Leigh

     /  November 14, 2014

    Robert – Daphna has been contacted by many including WAVY – no response. Unfortunately, PETA’s shack in the back of their building in Norfolk is still classified as a “shelter” in VA despite a significant effort last year with the VA Dept of Ag. & Consumer Services to eliminate their shelter status. As required by the state, they report their numbers every year and the last three years are here: http://nokillhr.org/local-statistics

    Reply
  43. Well well well… Looks like PETA was already informed animal theft is illigal in VA https://www.consumerfreedom.com/2007/06/3391-special-report-judge-reminds-peta-that-dognapping-is-a-felony/

    Reply
  44. Karen F

     /  November 19, 2014

    Another story, with both text and video, dated November 19th: “PETA, an Accomack County dog’s death and the fallout.”

    There is more detail, including the names of the women who stole the Cerates’ dog.

    “In Accomack County, where family dogs are held in higher esteem than rockets or libraries, the story has spread like the flu.”

    http://www.delmarvanow.com/story/news/local/virginia/2014/11/19/peta-accomack-dog-theft/19275037/

    Reply

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