Case against PETA over killed, kidnapped dog moves forward

WAVY/Greg Gadberry

NORFOLK (WAVY/AP) — A multimillion dollar civil suit will proceed against an animal-rights group whose employees allegedly kidnapped and euthanized a family’s Chihuahua on Virginia’s Eastern Shore in 2014.

Maya the Chihuahua was a Christmas present to then 9-year-old Cynthia Zarate. The lawsuit claims the death caused the girl to cry for weeks and lose sleep and weight.

WBOC-TV reports that a judge in Norfolk recently released an opinion that allows the case to move forward. The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals had filed motions to dismiss the suit. The judge did throw out a complain that PETA intentionally inflicted emotional distress on the family. A trial date is yet to be set.

“One of the big things the Zarates want is to make sure that no other family has to go through what they’ve endured,” the Zarate family attorney said. “We intend to put the facts in front of a jury and let the jury decide what is fair and just.”

Read the Circuit Court judge’s decision

PETA, a Norfolk-based non-profit, has described what happened as a tragic mistake. The organization says the suit goes too far against a charity serving the community.

WAVY News reached out to PETA, who released the following statement in response:

The court’s ruling dismissing the major parts of the claims against PETA supports PETA’s contention that this is a sham lawsuit based on lies, half-truths, and a lack of legal foundation. PETA was answering a community’s call for help to abate a severe problem with dogs and has, from the start, been willing to make amends to the family, but we will not be extorted by this blatant money grab. We will pursue our pending Motion for Sanctions against the plaintiffs and their attorneys for the false and fraudulent allegations contained in the lawsuit and are prepared to vigorously defend the remaining claims.”

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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