About a year after it was discovered that PETA was responsible for stealing and then killing a dog belonging to a Virginia family, the animal rights organization is now looking at a $9 million lawsuit for the devastating mistake they made. PETA did take responsibility for taking Maya the chihuahua and apologized to the Zarate family, but considering what happened, a simple “sorry about your dog” is probably not enough.
In October 2014, two PETA employees — Victoria Carey and Jennifer Woods — were caught on a surveillance camera luring Maya from a porch and taking her to their shelter where she was put down in a fairly swift manner despite a state law that says animals must be held for at least five days before being killed. PETA claimed in a statement that Maya was mistaken for a stray since she had no identifying tags on her. A supervisor from PETA’s shelter visited the family and apologized in person; the two employees who took the dog sent them a fruit basket. A fruit basket. For stealing and killing their dog. So, now, the Zarate family is asking for more.
PETA, who was fined $500 by the state, issued a public statement about the incident at the time explaining that locals had asked for their help to deal with an excess of stray animals in the area, and that’s why there were people actively seeking out dogs. However they concurred that it was “extremely upsetting” that a beloved family pet was mistaken for a stray and taken “in violation of regulations and in violation of existing PETA protocols.” As for the employees, Carey was terminated, but Woods remains on staff.
And about that part about how PETA kills animals when they’re supposed to be turning everyone in the world into hangry vegans? According to their site, the task of euthanizing unwanted animals at their shelter in Virginia is “heartbreaking” but a necessary and humane alternative (link contains graphic images) to making animals languish in cages for the rest of their lives. And indeed, there are many, many, many unwanted animals, but there are also plenty of animals who already belong to people who end up in shelters by mistake.