ACCOMACK COUNTY, Va. (WAVY) – Maya the chihuahua was a comfort to a little girl who moved to the Eastern Shore from Mexico. The girl’s family said the dog had a good life in their Parksley home and was well cared for. They told WAVY.com they can’t wrap their heads around why an organization that looks out for animals, took the dog from her home.
The young girl is now devastated.
“She didn’t want to go to school, she didn’t want to do jobs, she’s crying,” said the girl’s father, Wilbur Cerate. He noticed Maya missing when he got home one Saturday in October. “My chihuahua, when she sees my car, she come to me,” Cerate said. “That Saturday she did not come.”
Cerate checked his security camera and the video shows a van with “PETA” on the side back into his driveway. Two women got out of the van and one walked up his porch, took Maya, and put her in the back of the van.
“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 said.
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. They didn’t provide Wilbur any proof, so he called police and thought the women would be held accountable.
Accomack County Sheriff Todd Godwin told WAVY.com he charged the PETA workers with larceny. He said pets are considered personal property. But the local commonwealth’s attorney told WAVY.com 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. Now, the Cerate family may never get closure.
“We don’t have an answer about why,” Cerate said.
WAVY.com made several attempts to contact PETA to get proof about what happened to Maya and to figure out why she was taken. None of our calls were returned. So, we went to the company headquarters and we were referred to their Washington, D.C. office.
10 On Your Side looked in the Code of Virginia and learned stealing a dog is a Class 5 felony — click here to read the legislation.
After our 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.