A Court Will Determine if They Succeed
On October 18, 2014, two PETA employees illegally entered a family’s yard, went on their porch, stole their dog, and then killed her with a lethal dose of barbiturates. Maya’s family was devastated.
Although PETA initially denied doing so, surveillance video of the theft proved they were lying. They subsequently admitted to taking and killing Maya. She was not the only one. According to records received under the Public Records Act, PETA also rounded up and killed two four month old kittens, a six month old puppy, a one-year-old lab-mix, and another Chihuahua.
The Commonwealth of Virginia gave them a $500 fine for breaking the law, a slap on the wrist considering it is a fraction of the $52 million PETA took in that year from unsuspecting donors. But Maya’s family sued PETA abd the two PETA employees for compensatory and punitive damages, alleging conversion of their dog (theft), trespass, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. They seek $2,000,000 in compensatory damages and $5,000,000 in punitive damages.
As I reported in June, PETA asked the court to throw out the lawsuit by arguing that the dog was unlicensed so was not worth anything, the dog had no value beyond the cost of replacement for another dog, they had permission by the property owner to remove community cats so they cannot be guilty of trespass for entering and killing a dog, and the family is not entitled to punitive damages because PETA’s theft and immediate killing of a happy, healthy, beloved dog is not “outrageous” conduct. And thankfully, the court threw out most of PETA’s claims. The Court dismissed PETA’s contention that an unlicensed dog had no value. The Court also dismissed PETA’s claim that since PETA had permission to round up and kill community cats, they could also steal (and then kill) a family’s dog. Finally, the Court overruled PETA’s argument that stealing and killing a dog is not “outrageous conduct” required for awarding of punitive damages. The Judge ruled: “I believe reasonable people could find that taking another’s dog and killing [her] is outrageous and intolerable.”
Now, the two PETA employees are adding four outrageous claims of their own in a bid to get away with Maya’s illegal murder. First, one of the PETA employees argues that she can’t be held liable because she didn’t actually take Maya. “All she did” was conspire with the other employee to steal Maya, drive the getaway car, backed the van up to the family’s porch, and kept lookout while her accomplice went on on the family’s porch to steal and then kill Maya. In other words, even though she planned the crime, participated in the crime, drove the car to the crime, backed the car to the porch to commit the crime, kept a lookout during the commission of the crime, drove the getaway car from the crime scene, and then drove Maya to the PETA shed where PETA illegally killed her, suing her for all of the conduct is unfair because she didn’t actually go onto the porch and grab Maya.
Second, the PETA employees argue that the little girl whose dog was killed is not entitled to emotional distress damages stemming from the killing of her dog because the crime was part of a trespass on the family home and, as a 9 year old, she didn’t own the house where they stole the dog.
Third, though the Court already ruled against PETA on the issue once, the PETA employees once again argue that stealing and killing a dog is not outrageous conduct and should not give rise to punitive damages.
Finally, in an argument reeking with racial overtones, they want to know if the Spanish speaking person whose dog they stole and killed is legally in the U.S. As I noted when news of the theft and murder of Maya was first reported over a year ago, “Some have suggested that PETA targeted the trailer park [for rounding up and killing people’s animals] because of the language barrier, the questionable immigration status, and the fear of government officials that pervades the tenants. In other words, PETA officials thought they could get away with it.”
They continue to try.
The next court hearing is September 26. A ruling on the motions will occur shortly thereafter.
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