In Summerville, South Carolina, four teens have been arrested in connection with the beating of an opossum with a baseball bat as its torturers held the terrified animal by its tail over a dog. The egregious deed had been recorded on video and then shared on Snapchat.
According to the Journal Scene of Summerville, David Lucas, spokesperson for the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, said two adults and two juveniles have been charged with misdemeanor ill treatment of an animal. Those charged are Bethany Polutta, 18, and Austin Kizer, 19. The other two suspects involved are minors and have not been named.
An investigation began in September after screenshots of the animal abuse circulated online. Agency officials received still shots from a Snapchat video allegedly showing the individuals beating the animal inside a garage. There was such outrage at the intentional cruelty, Renate Hartland, a wildlife volunteer in Seattle, started an online petition addressed to Dorchester County Solicitor David Pascoe demanding the suspects be charged with felony animal cruelty which would carry a harsher punishment of at least 180 days in jail for the abusers. The Change.org petition, which has since garnered nearly 35,000 signatures, is asking for the more serious punishment than the misdemeanor abuse charge which carries a maximum 90 days in jail/$1,000 fine.
“The animal suffered repeated, persistent, merciless pain. The pain and suffering inflicted upon the opossum goes far beyond anything tolerable in a decent society. This is not ‘generic’ animal suffering, this is specific torture and torment,” the petition reads.
Opossums are not dangerous animals as long as they are not cornered. The marsupials help to eliminate snakes, rodents, insects and carrion. They are efficient at getting rid of ticks responsible for Lyme Disease.
A Facebook page A Light For Hope was developed – the tortured opossum named “Hope,” urges the solicitor to prosecute the case.
“The first signature is as important as the last and every signature in between! The Petition is printed and on it’s way to South Carolina…….4.5 lbs worth of overnight mail! Beth Sparks will be hand delivering it to the solicitors office on Tuesday……..Monday is a holiday. Here it is……every single voice calling for justice for Hope…..from all around the world!
Our team thanks every single one of you for your support. Stay with us, this fight is just beginning.”
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