Prosecutors from Accomack County released a statement here: http://www.ask4direct.com/InfoRead.asp?id=WESR&InfoID=954519
The prosecutor’s argument about PETA stealing and killing the dog is based on the fact they were picking up strays. They are saying they did not prosecute because PETA was present in some authoritative capacity to pick up stray pets. But, were they there to pick up and kill healthy treatable pets, homeless or not? And what was the criteria used to determine stray or not. Was it simply no collar?
”The facts appear to be that PETA was asked to help when an adjacent landowner reported that they should see how his cow with her udders ripped up from abandoned and stray dogs in the trailer park area amounted to a menace not to be tolerated.”
Perhaps a fair situation for them to ask for help if other animals were being harassed, injured or killed. But was the request to kill any pet remotely suspected of any participation on the alleged incidents? Or did PETA decide to save a cow by killing dogs and cats?
“Indeed, it is more probable under this evidence that the two women associated with PETA that day believed they were gathering animals that posed health and/or livestock threat in the trailer park and adjacent community.”
How did they determine this dog was a stray? The dog clearly went onto someone’s property to get away from people trying to take her. An indication that this was a safe place, like a home. Is it inconceivable to think this was the dog’s home?
Did they believe a Chihuahua was the culprit that resulted in “cow with her udders ripped up”. The complaint stemmed from when someone “complained to PETA that the abandoned and stray dogs attacked his livestock, injured his milking cow, killed his goat and terrorized his rabbits.” It’s an absurd premise that THIS dog was somehow responsible for the danger present from strays in the neighborhood.
There is a no way a Chihuahua was responsible for the injury of a cow, the killing of a goat, attacking any livestock of any size equal or larger than a chicken. This dog could have possible “terrorized his rabbits”. But if there were dogs capable of the other incidents, I would imagine the Chihuahua was in more danger than some of the livestock from any stray dog capable of attacking a cow and injuring it.
“Approximately three weeks before Mr. Cerates dog was taken by the women associated with PETA, Mr. Cerate asked if they would put traps under his trailer to catch some of the wild cats that were in the trailer park, and traps were provided to him as requested.”
They are trying to make Mr. Cerate complicit in killing these animals. But I think that is not a fair comparison. 1) at that time when he met them, you think they would have met his Chihuahua. Or at least asked everyone in the trailer park which dogs where there dogs and cat. And helped with collars and tagging to not take family pets., 2) He asked for traps to capture feline strays that were there to be taken away, not his dog 3) and, he was probably not asking them to kill these cats or know that was the outcome. He asked for traps, not a gun.
Mr. Cerate may or may not have cared about the cats. But clearly he did not kill them himself, or ask for them to be killed, so if we are talking intent, he did not have that intent by asking they “trap” them.
One fact is “the leases provided that no dogs were allowed to run free in the trailer park.” This is a problem because the dog was not on a fenced property or inside the house. If it was considered illegal that the dog was off leash and PETA had some authority, the prosecutors say we get into a gray area LEGALLY, not ethically. On what they initially did (steal the pets) it appears to most people they went onto someone’s property and seized a dog. The video is pretty telling. What is not on the video, but PETA has done nothing to deny is they subsequently killed that dog shortly thereafter.
If they had some authority, it must have been given by a municipality right? In that case you can force transparency of paperwork etc. as someone mentioned earlier. If they did not have authority, then they have a different problem. They were doing this with no animal control rights or privileges.
And most municipalities have a stray hold law. Meaning this dog should have been held long enough for a person to reclaim him. But Mr. Cerate did get in touch quickly and the dog had already been killed by PETA. Did they even wait until they go to their killing shelter? The City of Norfolk web site has photos and description on a lost dogs page. Some as old as October 4th 2014 (6 weeks). So clearly they don’t kill every dog they get the same day they receive them.
“Whether one favors or disfavors PETA has little to do with the decision of criminality. The issue is whether there is evidence that the two people when taking the dog believed they were taking the dog of another or whether they were taking an abandoned and/or stray animal.” Only if they had that authority. Which has not been determined. And if they did, they were still accountable to local laws such as stray hold and humane treatment.
But, “The animals were not euthanized in Accomack County, so this jurisdiction makes no determination on those issues.” This is pretty telling that the prosecutor is almost asking for that case to be taken up. If it did, and it was something that could be prosecuted elsewhere, he knows he would be off the hook. The story would shift away from Accomack County for the killing of an animal (before the stray hold minimum). Taking PETA to task for the killing is much more attractive than picking up the dog from that home (as comments I have seen use the condition of the home as some sort of excuse for taking the dog).
The Commonwealth of Virginia states in section Title 3.2 – AGRICULTURE, ANIMAL CARE, AND FOOD. 6.C Chapter 65 – Comprehensive Animal Care Section § 3.2-6546 that:
“An animal confined pursuant to this section shall be kept for a period of not less than five days, such period to commence on the day immediately following the day the animal is initially confined in the facility, unless sooner claimed by the rightful owner thereof.”
If PETA was acting in an official capacity, they should still have been held to this, if they had no authority, they acted just as anyone would and stole the pet and killed it. And should find no protection as a shelter, but a private person or organization stealing animals and then killing them.
If there is some way that the stealing of the dog is technically not an activity to prosecute, which I think is laziness on the part of the prosecutors, there is definitively and opportunity to prosecute on the killing of a homeless pet before allowing an owner to retrieve it during the stray hold.