ACCOMACK COUNTY, Va. (WAVY) — Dozens of people gathered in Accomack County Monday morning to protest the Commonwealth’s attorney’s decision not to prosecute two PETA workers accused of stealing and euthanizing a family’s dog.
“It is unthinkable that a little chihahua could be taken and killed, a child’s heart broken over the loss of her beloved pet. And it all hangs on the question of criminal intent,” said protester Debra Griggs with the Virginia Federation of Humane Societies.
Protesters said they will ask the Commonwealth’s attorney to reconsider his decision.
“These actions do qualify as criminal, and we’re here to advocate for further investigation of the Commonwealth’s attorney,” explained protester Tabitha Hanes with the Richmond S.P.C.A.
The investigation began last month when an Accomack County man claimed PETA workers stole and killed his pet chihuahua. Wilbur Cerate said home surveillance video shows a van with “PETA” on the side, enter his driveway, two women exit the van, one woman walk up his porch, pick up the dog and place it in the van. Cerate said the two women returned three days later with a fruit basket and bad news: his dog had been euthanized.
Accomack County Sheriff Todd Godwin arrested the two women on charges of larceny, but Accomack County Commonwealth’s Attorney Gary Agar decided not to prosecute. He released a statement Monday, giving the reason behind his decision.
In the statement, Agar said “the facts appear to be that PETA was asked to help” when an adjacent landowner “complained to PETA that the abandoned and stray dogs attacked his livestock, injured his milking cow, killed a goat, and terrorized his rabbits.”
The statement continued, “the van was clearly marked PETA, and in broad daylight, arrived, gathering up what abandoned stray dogs and cats could be gathered. Among the animals gathered was the Chihuahua of Mr. Cerate. 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.”
Agar’s office also said the animals were not euthanized in Accomack County, so his jurisdiction can’t make a determination on that part of the issue.
You can watch 10 On Your Side’s full interview with Accomack County Commonwealth’s Attorney Gary Agar in the video below: