Tuesday, August 21, 2018

The Era Of Trump And PETA: Not A Good Time To Be Hispanic

Simon Williams via Getty Images 
It’s open season on Mexican-Americans, whether you’re a bigot running for president, or an “animal rights” organization fighting for its right to kill pets.
It’s rare that Trump and PETA are mentioned in the same breath, but get used to it. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animal, as you may or may not know, is currently being sued for stealing and killing Maya, a little girl’s pet Chihuahua: not an especially unusual act for PETA, but one that was — uniquely — captured on surveillance video

Despite PETA’s numerous animal-positive arguments — that the family ought not to be able to sue, because dogs are “worthless” (I kid you not); and that a reasonable person would not consider the theft and killing of a pet “outrageous” (er, really?) — the judge has permitted the case to go to trial.

So what does this have to do with Donald Trump? Nothing much, except that PETA’s latest virtuous strategy is to have their lawyers attack the girl’s father as not-quite-American, and possibly even Mexican — God forbid! This is a page straight out of the Trump playbook, of course: Divert attention from crucial issues by scapegoating a prominent minority, preferably Hispanic.

The court documents have been analyzed by Heather Harper-Troje, a former PETA worker who quit in disgust when PETA’s president allegedly insisted that her staff kill healthy dogs and hide the evidence. She wrote:

Time and time again Wilbur Zarate, the father of Cynthia, the little girl whose dog PETA stole and killed, was asked about his citizenship status, the citizenship status of his family members, the status of his green card by PETA’s attorney during his deposition. He even went so far as to ask if Cynthia was born in the US or in Mexico. Because Mr. Zarate’s citizenship status is relevant to the fact that PETA stole and killed his little girl’s dog how?

Ms. Harper-Troje has for years stood up to this vicious organization, despite a protracted smear campaign by PETA and its unofficial apologists. She has been targeted in particular by one ardent human, Mary Tully, who isn’t on the PETA payroll, but has an entire vast website devoted to justifying PETA’s decades of killing. (To be fair, this takes a lot of justifying: we’re talking tens of thousands of dead cats and dogs.) Read it... if you can. It’s comically dull — mind-numbing details designed to divert attention from the relevant and indisputable fact: PETA (according to its own documents submitted to the Virginia state government) poisons almost every animal unfortunate enough to be referred to its “shelter of last resort.”

Diversion is the strategy of the day. PETA apparently hopes to convince the court that this family — if indeed they are undocumented immigrants — deserve to have their pet dog lured from their porch and summarily put to death. 

For a long time, this privileged, overwhelmingly white organization has bullied its neighbors, many of whom are not white and not especially well off. Members of the community worry (for good reason) that PETA will go after their pets. Some of them, to be sure, are not documented Americans and are not likely to report the organization to the police. We know, for instance, that PETA killed more animals that day than Cynthia’s Chihuahua, but the trailer park in which they rounded them up had a number of residents whose status was questionable. Certainly, the community turned out in force to protest the killing of Maya and to push for legislation curbing PETA’s ability to kill animals

PETA has a lot to lose in this trial: $9.7 million, to be precise. It will be difficult to justify this to well-meaning donors, should the case not go their way. And so Ingrid Newkirk — who was not born in America, interestingly enough — has decided to borrow the ugliest tactic from the Trump playbook: When the game get rough, throw down that potent Mexican-American card. 

It will be reassuring if this parallel strategy issues parallel results. May this election humiliate Donald Trump, and this lawsuit annihilate PETA.
Follow Douglas Anthony Cooper on Twitter:   Douglas Anthony Cooper Novelist, Photographer. Portfolio: www.dys.format.com

Man says PETA took his dog from porch, killed her

Jay Diem| Eastern Shore News Wilbur Cerate holds a photo of his family's dog, Maya, on Wednesday, Nov. 19, 2014, on the porch of his home, where he says PETA workers stole her. He says the workers returned days later with a basket of fruit and told him the pet had been euthanized.
ACCOMACK COUNTY  ~ Parksley is off the radar, even for Virginia's Eastern Shore. Tucked away west of the peninsula's main corridor, it's surrounded by farm fields and chicken houses - a town of fewer than 1,000 souls living rural lives up near the Maryland border.

No one in this story is used to headlines. Except for PETA - People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. This just might be the first time in its history that the Norfolk-based group's publicity machine is lying low.

At the center of a drama pitting local officials against each other and drawing outrage from around the globe:

Maya, a 3-year-old Chihuahua. (Picture the Taco Bell dog.)

Video shot by a security camera six weeks ago shows a woman identified by authorities as a PETA worker scooping Maya off the porch of her owner, a Mexican immigrant named Wilbur Cerate, who lives outside Parksley in a run-down trailer park named - somewhat surreally - Dreamland 2.

Before Cerate could get his dog back, Maya had been euthanized. According to Cerate, a representative from PETA came to his trailer bearing a fruit basket as a token of apology.

Up until last week, Cerate was telling his story to all who would listen. He called the sheriff, who pressed charges against the two PETA workers seen on the video. He gave TV interviews. A week ago today, on Monday morning,, he led a few dozen supporters on a march to the office of the Accomack County commonwealth's attorney to protest the prosecutor's decision to drop charges against the workers.

By that afternoon, though, Cerate had lawyered up. Outside his home, situated on the backside of a muddy, potholed loop through Dreamland 2 (there's also a Dreamland 1), Cerate apologized to a Pilot reporter.

In broken English, he said he now has an attorney, who has advised him to stop talking.
Others remain willing or have become so. Again, except for PETA.

Known for its in-your-face animal advocacy campaigns - everything from throwing red paint on fur wearers to comparing slaughterhouses to the Holocaust - PETA's public relations staff has not returned multiple messages seeking comment.

The tiny dog's demise began around noon on Saturday, Oct. 18. According to the prosecutor, PETA workers were at the trailer park picking up strays at the request of a nearby landowner, who said dogs from the park had ripped up the udder of his milking cow, killed a goat and terrorized his rabbits.

Cerate was at home when the roundup began but left to buy a dog bed for Maya, according to one of his friends, Edward Armstrong, who runs a tax business in Parksley.

Cerate got Maya as a puppy, Armstrong said - a gift for his daughter, now 9. He'd just given the dog a bath, removing her collar and leaving her loose on the porch - a lean-to built of particle board - to dry out on what was a warm day.

"That dog was very well trained," Armstrong said. "She wouldn't leave the porch."

When Cerate returned and found Maya missing, he suspected PETA and reviewed the video in his security camera. It showed a white van backing up to his trailer, two women getting out and opening its rear doors. There was Maya, wriggling toward them down the steps, then scurrying back up onto the porch. A woman follows, picks her up, puts her in the van, shuts its doors and drives away.

Cerate immediately called PETA, but he couldn't reach anyone. He called again the next day but was told no dogs had been picked up at the park. That Monday, he showed the video to Armstrong, who urged him to call police. On Tuesday, - three days after Maya was taken - the fruit basket arrived at Cerate's front door with word that she had been killed.

Accomack Sheriff Todd Godwin charged the workers, both women from South Hampton Roads, with larceny.
"If it was me or you who did something like that," Godwin said, "PETA would eat us up."
Godwin obtained arrest warrants and contacted PETA, who he said sent the women to Accomack accompanied by an attorney. The workers were booked and released.

PETA euthanizes nearly 90 percent of the animals it takes in, a rate often criticized by other animal groups. PETA defends its practices, referring to itself as a shelter of last resort - a place that provides a merciful death for animals too sick, old or otherwise unfit for adoption.

But state regulations call for a minimum holding period of five days, said Debra Griggs, president of the Virginia Federation of Humane Societies. Pickups are also required to be reported to a locality's animal control.

"In Maya's case, PETA did neither of those things," Griggs said. "It's a serious violation."

Aside from that, she said, the video shows "a happy, healthy, sweet dog on its own property, and that flies in the face of everything we believe in - not only about our pets but our property rights in general."

Griggs joined the protest march on the prosecutor's office.

"It was a very interesting cross-section of people," she said. "There were some locals, but some were from as far away as D.C."

Godwin, the sheriff, is also frustrated with the prosecutor, Gary Agar. Godwin said he has "no idea" why Agar dropped the charges: "We can't figure it out."

Initially, Agar would say only that he wasn't "satisfied that the evidence is capable of showing criminal intent beyond a reasonable doubt. I don't feel I have to explain it. It only invites argument, and I'm not going to debate my opinion."

On the day of the protest, however, he issued a two-page statement that said Maya had no dog tag and had, at times that day, been off the porch. To convict on criminal intent, Agar wrote, prosecutors would have to prove the women knew they were "stealing property." Instead, it's "more probable" they believed "they were gathering animals that posed health and/or livestock threat."

Cerate and his supporters aren't satisfied with that. They can't imagine how anyone could consider a Chihuahua - average weight: 4 to 6 pounds - a danger to livestock.

Armstrong said PETA workers were familiar with the trailer park, having been there before to collect abandoned pets and donate dog houses.

"They started coming about two months ago," he said. "They'd met Mr. Cerate's family and knew who Maya belonged to."

Outside his trailer last week, Cerate said he was tired. All the ruckus has caused him to lose sleep. His story has appeared in The Huffington Post and the New York Daily News. More than 5,500 people have "liked" a Facebook page dedicated to Maya, with posts from as far away as Asia, Italy and the United Kingdom.

Cerate's surroundings may be humble, but he's trying to provide a decent home for his family. Broken windows, discarded furniture, old tires and trash litter the rest of Dreamland 2. Cerate's lot is neat, with mulched flower beds, a trampoline and a jungle gym.

The security camera was mounted in the hopes of keeping what little the family has.

Without it, Armstrong said, no one except PETA would ever know what happened to Maya.

Joanne Kimberlin, 757-446-2338, joanne.kimberlin@pilotonline.com


PETA Settles Lawsuit After Euthanizing Girl's Chihuahua

Sequence Media News Aug 17, 2017 1 min. 1 sec.

PETA has settled a lawsuit with a family after they took their 9-year-old girl’s pet Chihuahua and euthanized it. The Associated Press reports the father of the girl said they took his daughter’s Chihuahua from a Virginia mobile home park and alleged PETA ‘considers pet ownership to be a form of involuntary bondage.’ 
According to the Associated Press, two women affiliated with PETA went to the mobile home park to capture wild dogs and feral cats, but made a mistake when they took the unattended and unleashed Chihuahua, Maya, and euthanized her that day, which violated a state law that requires a 5-day grace period. PETA will pay the family $49,000 and donate $2,000 to a local SPCA. The family was looking for a $7 million settlement. According to the Daily Mail, PETA put down more than 1,400 of about 2,000 animals in 2016.

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