A family has settled a lawsuit against the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals for taking a girl's unattended dog and euthanizing it, ending an attempt to effectively put PETA on trial for euthanizing hundreds of animals each year. PETA said it will pay the family $49,000 and donate $2,000 to a local SPCA to honor the dog. The family had sought up to $7 million. The settlement dims what could have been a very public spotlight on the international animal rights organization and the controversial animal shelter it runs at its headquarters in Norfolk, Va. Wilber Zarate had sued PETA for taking his daughter's Chihuahua from a mobile home park on the state's Eastern Shore and putting it down before the end of a required five-day grace period, reports the AP.
Zarate had alleged that PETA operates under a broad policy of euthanizing animals, including healthy ones, because it "considers pet ownership to be a form of involuntary bondage." PETA denied the allegations and maintains the 2014 incident was a "terrible mistake." Two women affiliated with PETA, Victoria Carey and Jennifer Wood, traveled to Accomack, Virginia, because they said a mobile home park owner asked for help capturing wild dogs and feral cats. The women removed an unattended and unleashed Chihuahua named Maya, which was a Christmas present to 9-year-old Cynthia Zarate. Maya was put down later that day, a violation of a state law that requires a five-day grace period. PETA was fined $500 for the violation.