PETA Breaks Silence after Killing Parksley Pet

Example of a citizens group’s reaction to PETA’s kidnapping and killing of Maya, a pet chihuahua belonging to a young Parksley girl.


February 27, 2014

When PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) workers removed a Parksley child’s pet from the porch of her home on October 18, 2014, and euthanized the dog the next day, the news travelled around the world. It was certainly the biggest story of the year coming out of Virginia’s Eastern Shore.

But perhaps the most surprising element of the story was that PETA, a large, international organization, gave no response whatsoever. Even as citizens groups demonstrated in Accomack County against Commonwealth’s Attorney Gary Agar for his refusal to press charges, PETA remained mum. Only now, more than four months later, has PETA broken its silence and offered an explanation for what happened.

Although Parksley falls outside the Wave’s area of news coverage, the story is so remarkable that we are reprinting portions of an interview with a PETA spokesperson appearing in today’s Virginian-Pilot. Tim Eberly reports from Norfolk that just as a state investigation “is about to become public record, [PETA] is breaking its silence on the bizarre ordeal. It’s our fault, the agency acknowledges. We’re very sorry. And we’ll do whatever it takes to keep it from happening again.”


According to the newspaper, “the state has determined that PETA violated state law by failing to ensure that the animal was properly identified and failing to keep the dog alive for five days before killing it, according to the notice from the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

“Because of this ‘critical finding’ and the ‘severity of this lapse in judgment,’ the agency issued PETA the organization’s first-ever violation and imposed the largest fine allowed, $500.

“‘We were pretty devastated that this happened for obvious reasons,’ said Daphna Nachminovitch, a senior vice president for PETA who oversees the team that was responsible for the euthanization. ‘It shouldn’t have happened. It was a terrible mistake.’

“PETA has made several changes to prevent such an incident from happening again. Field workers who pick up animals now must complete an additional form to verify that all proper steps have been taken. Supervisors also must approve of any unscheduled ‘animal surrenders’ in the field.

According to reporter Eberly, the PETA spokesperson could not provide answers for some key questions about the incident. “She said PETA’s attorney instructed her not to talk to the worker involved because of the state and criminal investigations into the situation. For example, she doesn’t know why PETA staff members didn’t try to find a home for the dog after taking it into custody,” or why it was killed the same day.

CLICK to read the full report in the Virginian-Pilot.

Here is the full text of the PETA statement issued today, more than four months after the incident. (It should be noted that the statement’s reference to “a dog picked up by a PETA worker in the mobile home park” fails to note that the dog in fact was on the owner’s porch at the time, as documented by the owner’s security video (CLICK to view).)

Today, PETA is finally able to express the deep sorrow that we feel over an incident that occurred on the Eastern Shore in October 2014, for which we have been investigated and cited by the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS). PETA has awaited the release of VDACS’ findings before commenting publicly. The circumstances are these: Accomack County residents appealed to PETA for help with a long-standing crisis in which abandoned and feral dogs were attacking children, livestock, wildlife, and cats; giving birth to litters of sick puppies under trailers; and running in packs at an area mobile home park. PETA was contacted because we have an around-the-clock program to answer calls for help in southeastern Virginia, providing more than 112,000 free and low-cost spay or neuter surgeries for animals of indigent, elderly, military, and other citizens; free doghouse and straw-bedding delivery services; emergency veterinary care and counseling for animal-related problems; and working with other agencies.

It was extremely upsetting, therefore, to discover that in the course of doing something helpful and good, something bad had happened. A dog picked up by a PETA worker in the mobile home park, collarless and without any indicia of ownership, was mistakenly identified as an owner-surrender and was then euthanized in error, in violation of regulations and in violation of existing PETA protocols. Immediately after the incident became known to PETA management, our shelter supervisor visited the dog’s owner to extend our heartfelt apologies to the family, and PETA began a comprehensive internal investigation. The person responsible for this tragic mistake was immediately suspended and subsequently terminated. PETA has implemented additional safeguards to ensure that such a mistake never happens again.

A December 11, 2014, inspection by the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services confirmed noncompliance related to the required holding period for this dog and acknowledged PETA’s prompt action to apply additional safeguards. This is the first and only finding of noncompliance in more than 16 years of operation and flawless inspection reports for PETA’s shelter. PETA takes full responsibility for and sincerely regrets what happened. This terrible mistake has provided fuel for those who habitually misrepresent and fabricate stories about the way in which PETA’s shelter operates, and that, too, is regrettable. We ask the community to forgive this mistake and to remember the tens of thousands of animals PETA has helped, and our extensive efforts to help abate the overpopulation crisis through sterilization surgeries and thereby end needless euthanasia in Hampton Roads and beyond. Please watch this short video, which gives more information about our services and shows the work that we do in some of the most impoverished areas.

Daphna Nachminovitch, Senior Vice President
Cruelty Investigations



8 Responses to “PETA Breaks Silence after Killing Parksley Pet”

  1. Nancy Garrett on February 28th, 2015 7:05 am

    I will never give a dime to PETA. Years ago my husband and I were attending an event at Scope in Norfolk. A PETA demonstrator jumped in front of me waving a sign and told me I was going to hell because I was wearing a mink jacket. I told him “fine, I would meet him there – he and his leather shoes” – and to get out of my way. This group has gotten more agressive over the years and I am glad they are being finally brought to task for their actions.

  2. Steve Downs on February 28th, 2015 7:12 am

    People for the Euthanization of your Animal. They admitted it. They need to be prosecuted.

  3. Diane Wilson on February 28th, 2015 7:35 am

    A $500 fine. Gee, huge deterrent.

  4. Louise Oliver on February 28th, 2015 7:58 am

    Sorry? Only because they got caught.

  5. Jill Combs on February 28th, 2015 8:31 am

    No telling how many times they have done this or tried to get someone’s pet. Everyone knows someone whose pet has gone missing, never to find it. Well here is your answer. PETA — people who sneak around in white vans and steal animals. PETA — what a freak show!

  6. Kearn Schemm on February 28th, 2015 11:32 am

    I hope the owners sue them and teach them a real lesson. $500 for a life is a joke.

  7. Dana Lascu on February 28th, 2015 3:46 pm

    If this were a short story, I would assume it was the product of a slightly deranged imagination. The reality is surreal… My deepest condolences to the Parksley family. When you write your checks to support an animal shelter in the future, make sure you are funding a no-kill shelter. PETA certainly doesn’t qualify for your support.

  8. Melissa Fehrer on March 5th, 2015 9:48 pm

    People for the ethical treatment of animals? Anyone who would euthanize an animal rather than trying to find it a home is not very ethical in my mind. I used to consider what they were doing to preserve whales was wonderful but with this story my view of them has disintegrated. I will never give any donations to them again and will tell this story to others.