Every time Wilbur Cerate had pulled up to his home in Parksley, Virginia, his chihuahua, Maya, would come running up to his car.
But one day last month, there was silence.
“That Saturday she did not come," he told WAVY-TV.
With Maya missing, Cerate checked his security camera and discovered a disturbing sight: A van marked “PETA” had backed into his driveway and two women got out. One walked up to Cerate's porch, grabbed the dog, and placed it in the back of the van.
According to WAVY, the owner of the trailer park where Cerate lives had received several complaints about stray dogs, and authorized People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals to pick up strays. But Cerate doesn't believe Maya fit the bill.
“I was angry," he said. "I understand they pick up my dog if it was in a tree or another place, but this is in my house.”
But it gets worse: After Cerate called PETA, the same two women returned three days later bearing a fruit basket to "negotiate about Maya," he told WAVY. Turns out, Maya had been euthanized.
With that, Cerate called the police. Accomack County Sheriff Todd Godwin told WAVY he charged the PETA workers with larceny, since pets are considered personal property. The local commonwealth’s attorney didn't agree, however, and dropped the charges against PETA, saying there wasn't enough evidence to prosecute.
The attorney told WAVY that the video from Cerate's security camera doesn't indicate criminal intent. The station noted that the Virginia code lists stealing a dog as a Class 5 felony.
A WAVY reporter made numerous attempts to get documentation from PETA regarding the incident but no calls were returned. When the reporter visited PETA's headquarters in Hampton Roads, she was referred to the organization's Washington, D.C., office.
The D.C. outfit hadn't returned the station's messages either. The station also has been attempting to get more information from the commonwealth’s attorney but calls weren’t returned.
Meanwhile, the family is struggling through the fallout.
"We don’t have an answer about why,” Cerate told WAVY.
He added that his young daughter has been distraught, especially since Maya was a soothing source to her after the family's move from Mexico: “She didn’t want to go to school, she didn’t want to do jobs, she’s crying."
(H/T: Raw Story)