The owner of a pet fish was arrested in North Carolina on Wednesday for animal cruelty charges after the fish was found by deputies late last week “in poor health and swimming in a dirty tank.” The fish was forced to eat cockroaches that had fallen into his tank.
According to the News Observer, the Oscar fish is recovering at The Fish Room in Wilmington. Its former owner, Michael Ray Hinson, 53, abandoned the fish after he was evicted from his home. Three days later, the pet was found by deputies.
“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.”
The fish is being treated with antibiotics and a healthy diet. Previously all it had to eat were cockroaches that had fallen into the fish tank. For days, the fish didn’t eat the food pellets in its tank at the pet store because it didn’t know pellets were food.
Oscar fish are known for their intelligence and are among one of the most popular aquarium fish. It has been reported these fish have the ability to recognize their owners and can grow to 16 inches. They are capable of living 20 years; this particular Oscar is estimated to be about a year old.
A spokesperson for the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office stated this is the first time a person has been charged with animal cruelty involving a fish, however the county asserts they will not tolerate any animal abuse.
Hinson has been charged with three counts of animal cruelty and one count of abandonment of an animal. Bail was set at $4,000.
As for the future of the fish – he could be up for adoption, he could remain at the fish store as their mascot or he might go to the sheriff’s office – a tank set up and be the fish that was saved by deputies.
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