PETA Wants Suspected California Wildfire Starter Investigated for Cruelty to Animals

The Dersch Fire Killed Countless Wild Animals—Group Says Cruelty Charges Must Not Also Be Lost in the Fire

For Immediate Release:
November 9, 2020

Nicole Meyer 202-483-7382

Shasta County, Calif. – This morning, PETA sent a letter urging the Shasta County district attorney to investigate and file appropriate cruelty-to-animals charges against Caleb Michael Eckert, who is scheduled for a November 10 plea disposition conference on charges that he faces in connection with a vehicle fire outside Anderson that reportedly sparked the Dersch fire in Northern California.

California law states that any person who causes an animal “unnecessary or unjustifiable physical pain or suffering” is guilty of cruelty to animals—and as PETA notes in its letter, contributing to a wildfire that caused countless animals’ horrific deaths should qualify.

“When the Dersch fire swept through 133 acres of vegetation, an enormous number of wild animals undoubtedly experienced terrifying, agonizing deaths,” says PETA Senior Vice President Daphna Nachminovitch. “The enforcement of cruelty-to-animals laws must not go up in smoke—the person responsible needs to be held accountable for violating California’s animal protection statutes.”

PETA made a similar request in September in the case of an accused arsonist connected to the Almeda fire in Oregon—and that man now faces eight counts of first-degree animal abuse for “unlawfully and recklessly and cruelly” causing the deaths of a sheep, a canary, a lamb, a goldfish, chickens, and a raccoon.

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to abuse in any way”—opposes speciesism, which is a human-supremacist worldview. For more information, visit or follow the group on TwitterFacebook, or Instagram.

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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind