Animal rights group PETA has been accused of stealing a family's beloved dog, driving away and then killing it by the pet's distraught owners.

Surveillance footage appears to show the animal rights group taking away Maya a Chihuahua from the front porch of her family's trailer in Parksley, Virginia.

And according to Wilbur Cerate, whose daughter has been distraught since Maya left, two PETA representatives knocked on his door three days later to tell him his dog had been killed.

By way of consolation, they offered the family a fruit basket, WAVY-TV reported.

Cerate said: 'My chihuahua, when she sees my car, she come to me. That Saturday she did not come.'

'I was angry. I understand they pick up my dog, [sic] if it was in a tree or another place, but this is in my house.'

Footage dated October 18 shows a PETA van pulling up to house's driveway. A woman is seen getting out, approaching the home, then leaving moments later with something in her arms.

Despite dozens of requests for comment from local and national media, the group is yet to issue a statement on Maya's removal and death.

Cerate reported PETA to the police, and the local sheriff filed larceny charges. Virginia has specific provisions in law for the theft of dogs or other domesticated animals.

But after the case was passed on to the commonwealth attorney's office to handle, it was dropped because the evidence was not strong enough.

PETA has a history of killing large percentages of the animals in its possession a process it defends because it claims to be the 'shelter of last resort'.

On its website, a statement says: 'When impoverished families cannot afford to pay a veterinarian to let a suffering and/or aged animal leave this world, PETA will help.

'When an aggressive, unsocialized dog has been left to starve at the end of a chain with a collar grown into his neck and his body racked with mange, PETA will spare him from dying slowly and miserably in someone's backyard.'

But annual reports on PETA's track record caring for animals show that more than 97 per cent of creatures in its care were killed since 1998.