Courtland, VA — People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) employee Andrea Florence Benoit will be arraigned today in Southampton County (VA) Circuit Court on a felony charge of stealing a local Animal Control officer’s hunting dog. The nonprofit Center for Consumer Freedom, which tracks PETA’s program of killing adoptable dogs and cats at PETAkillsAnimals.com, is calling on the animal rights group to stop playing God with other people’s pets. Benoit was indicted by a Grand Jury on July 16.

Benoit was arrested in October 2006, shortly after allegedly abducting a free-roaming Walker hound. Police stopped her PETA-owned van as she attempted to transport the dog to PETA’s Norfolk office. During a preliminary hearing on June 27, police testified that Benoit initially lied about having taken the animal. But after the owner described it in detail, she changed her tune, saying “Oh … that dog. It’s in the back.”

The dog’s owner also testified that when the dog was taken, it was wearing an identification collar bearing his name and cell phone number. The dog’s coat was also marked with an identifying number and the owner’s initials. On June 27, Benoit’s attorney stated that the dog was perfectly healthy when Benoit took it, and that she and an alleged accomplice “did what was, quite frankly, consistent with their training” at PETA.

“It’s no secret that PETA doesn’t like hunters, but the group has no business stealing their dogs,” Center for Consumer Freedom Director of Research David Martosko said today. “Judging from PETA’s 80 percent kill rate, it’s likely this animal was headed for the death-chamber at PETA’s Norfolk headquarters when police intervened. This is the kind of behavior PETA would be condemning if its own employees weren’t responsible for it.”