Off the hook: Man who abandoned pet fish not charged with cruelty

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The owner of a pet fish arrested in North Carolina last week for animal cruelty charges after the fish was found by deputies late last week “in poor health and swimming in a dirty tank,” is off the hook. Prosecutors dropped misdemeanor animal cruelty charges on Wednesday.

Michael Ray Hinson, 53, had been evicted from his home and abandoned the six-inch Oscar fish, which was forced to eat cockroaches that fell into his tank. When deputies entered the home to check, they found the sickly fish living in “deplorable” conditions. The fish was brought to a local pet store for life saving treatment.

“It came in with a disease, hole in the head, which is a parasite that is caused by poor water quality and malnutrition,” an employee told WectNews. “It was a pretty severe case of the disease, which opens sores and lesions on the fish’s head. It is an infection that can be fatal.”

According to the AbcNews, Hinson was charged under a statute that protects animal vertebrates: amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals, excluding humans. Fish are not listed.

Sheriff’s Lt. Jerry Brewer said this was the county’s first animal cruelty case involving a fish. Nevertheless, the county takes a dim view of anyone abusing or neglecting any “creature great or small.”

The fish continues to recuperate at a pet store – the Fish Room and is being treated with a healthy diet and antibiotics.

Read original coverage here.

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