Brevard Sheriff's Office: Teen charged with animal cruelty after video goes viral

9:55 AM, Jun 25, 2013   |    comments
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MELBOURNE, Florida (Florida Today) -- A 17-year-old was arrested after a video surfaced online that allegedly shows a trapped raccoon and possum getting shot.

The video generated a large online response, including a petition signed by more than 9,000 people, according to the site Causes.com.

View: Causes.com petition

"Our agency received a number of telephone and social media tips from our citizens who were rightfully outraged over the actions posted on YouTube and Facebook," Sheriff Wayne Ivey said in a release. "Our agents immediately addressed the issue, working with the State Attorney's Office to ensure that those responsible for the cruel activities were charged. These actions are thoroughly disturbing and the Sheriff's Office greatly appreciates all who called to report the incident."

FLORIDA TODAY is not naming the minor, who has been charged with felony animal cruelty and discharge of a weapon in a residential area. He is being held at Brevard County Juvenile Detention Center.

The video shows a young man approaching a raccoon in a box-style trap. He slides what appears to be a rifle through the bars of the trap, taking aim at the raccoon and firing a shot. The animal writhes inside the trap. The video shows the man setting the raccoon aside and turning his attention to a second trap containing a possum. He shoots the possum twice.

It appears that after the video was posted on Facebook, another person recorded it and posted it to YouTube. A link to the YouTube video was embedded on the Causes.com petition page, which also gives advice about how to contact local media and police.

Captain Bob Brown of Brevard County Animal Services said his agency has been flooded with "hundreds" of phone calls.

"From as far away as Canada and Hawaii and Nevada and Connecticut and California and all points of the globe," Brown said of the calls.

His agency passed the information along to the sheriff's office, which is the agency that investigates suspected criminal activity.

Brown said nuisance animals can be trapped and disposed of legitimately.

"You can euthanize a nuisance animal but it has to be done in a humane manner," he said. "It is not illegal to trap and kill a raccoon, it is illegal though to make an animal suffer."

Andrew Ford

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