PETA silent as groups push for answers about stolen dog

WAVY/Greg Gadberry
WAVY/Greg Gadberry

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – Two days after WAVY News reported on allegations that PETA workers stole and killed a chihuahua from Accomack County, two groups are calling on the animal advocacy group to answer questions. PETA remains silent.

Wilbur Cerate owned the dog, named Maya. He said one weekend in October he discovered the dog was missing. He checked surveillance video, which shows a PETA van pull up, two workers get out, and one snatch the dog off his 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 told 10 On Your Side.

The two women from PETA came back to his house three days later, he said. They brought a fruit basket and terrible news — Maya had been euthanized. He said they didn’t provide any proof, so he called police and thought the women would be held accountable.

WAVY News has made repeated attempts to contact PETA about the case, including phone calls and emails to their offices in Norfolk and Washington, D.C. Two WAVY reporters have visited the Norfolk headquarters twice this week — both times, a receptionist referred questions to the D.C. office, which has not returned any calls.

Debra Griggs of the Virginia Federation of Humane Societies has called PETA, too.

“Tell us what happened. I mean, if you have nothing to hide, why in the world would you avoid WAVY? Why would you avoid other inquiries?” Griggs said.

The Center for Consumer Freedom, a non-profit in Washington, D.C that says it aims to protect consumer choices, has also stepped in, since our story aired Wednesday, senior research analyst Will Coggin said.

“We put out a media statement nationally, alerting people to this incident, because it’s obviously very troubling … PETA needs to come clean with the public about what’s going on here. Has PETA been doing this elsewhere in the Tidewater region that we don’t know about?” Coggin said.

“I am grateful to WAVY for continuing to persist on this because we are doing the same thing. It makes no sense. A dog was stolen. Why is it not being prosecuted?” Griggs said.

Accomack County Sheriff Todd Godwin told WAVY News he charged the PETA workers with larceny. He said pets are considered personal property. But the local Commonwealth’s Attorney said 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.

After WAVY’s initial report of this story, several viewers said on WAVY’s Facebook page that they called the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office to voice displeasure with his decision. 10 On Your Side has been working to get more information on the decision from his office, too, but our calls weren’t returned.

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