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PETA Pays $50K After Seizing Little Girl’s Pet Chihuahua and Putting it Down

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People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is a controversial group often making headlines. The group’s mission is supposed to be to protect animals, but in 2012 The Atlantic penned an article indicating that animals in their care are euthanized at an astronomical rate, with a measly 3 percent adoption rate. The group is making news again.

PETA is receiving negative attention this time due to the death of a little girl’s pet chihuahua that she had just received as a Christmas present. According to The Guardian, Victoria Carey and Jennifer Wood, who are two PETA affiliates, traveled to a mobile home park in Accomack County, Virginia to help rescue the increasing number of stray cats and dogs.

The two stumbled upon a chihuahua named Maya that had no tags and was off its leash. Maya was brought to a nearby shelter and put down that same day.

This violated the required five-day grace period before an animal can be euthanized. After learning this news, Maya’s owners sued the activist group, seeking damages of $7 million. Wilber Zarate had purchased the young dog for his 9-year-old daughter who was obviously devastated to learn of her euthanization.

The Zarates alleged that PETA euthanized their dog because the group “considers pet ownership to be a form of involuntary bondage.” The group denied this and called it simply a “terrible mistake.”

PETA was fined $500 for not following the five-day grace period as they violated state law, Telegraph.co.uk reported. The Zarates had planned to take the group to trial in Septemeber but they settled out of court after the group pledged to pay the family $49,000 and then donate $2,000 to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

William H Shewmake, the lawyer for the family, said in a statement following the settlement: “The Zarates felt that the settlement reflects the grievous loss of their beloved Maya. And it allows the Zarates to bring some closure to a very painful chapter of their lives. They’re glad the case has been settled.”

PETA and the Zarates released a joint statement: “Peta again apologizes and expresses its regrets to the Zarate family for the loss of their dog Maya. Mr. Zarate acknowledges that this was an unfortunate mistake by Peta and the individuals involved, with no ill will toward the Zarate family.”