However, animal activists groups are pushing for further charges in an online petition, saying that the misdemeanor charges “in no way cover(s) the actions of these defendants.”
Lucas said the two adults will appear in magistrate’s court, while the juveniles’ cases will be handled in family court.
Authorities began investigating the incident in September when a video was posted on Snapchat that appeared to show several teenagers beating an opossum with a baseball bat in a garage.
People who saw the Snapchat video took screenshots of the incident and turned them over to the Department of Natural Resources, Lucas said.
“I think anyone who saw (the screenshots) would think it’s disturbing,” Lucas said.
Hartland, along with other animal activists, named the opossum “Hope” and started the Facebook page “In Light of Hope” for the animal’s supporters. The Change.org petition has more than 33,000 signatures and the Facebook page has more than 1,400 followers.
The petition requests more serious punishment than the misdemeanor abuse charge, which carries a maximum punishment of 90 days in jail or a fine of up to $1,000 on the first offense.
Instead, petitioners are asking for the offenders to face felony charges for torture, torment, or cruel killing, with a minimum punishment of 180 days in jail.
“The animal suffered repeated, persistent, merciless pain,” the petition reads. “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.”
Lucas said Monday that further charges from his department are not expected.
“The case on our end is closed, but the solicitor might further investigate the incident,” he said.
This is the second time in six months the state’s Department of Natural Resources has investigated teenagers abusing an animal on Snapchat.
In response to the opossum incident, PETA has sent letters to schools in the area urging them to implement humane education.
“We’re facing a bullying epidemic, and these boys allegedly beat an opossum to death with a baseball bat and bragged about it on social media,” said PETA spokesperson Marta Holmberg in an online press release. “TeachKind is urging schools to implement humane education and adopt an official policy against cruelty to animals that will help prevent a shocking crime like this one from occurring again.”
(Miami Herald - Oct 9, 2017)
- South Carolina: Future serial killers - Laughing teens tortured and beat opossum to death with a baseball bat then posted photos and videos on Snapchat.
Pennsylvania: High school football players charged with animal cruelty, accused of beating, torturing and killing animals for fun
Nebraska: Despite admitting to being present when 3 teen boys killed a cat they'd tortured, judge rules Kirk Van Pelt not guilty of animal cruelty
Australia: Opossum torturer Hunter Jonasen, 18, punched a stranger so hard that 'part of the victim's lip was missing' while on probation for torturing a possum and posting the video to Snapchat
North Carolina: Teens Jared Rose and Kalob Hubbard torture and burn opossum alive and are so proud of themselves they post on Instagram
North Carolina: Two future serial killers beat opossum and then set it and its babies on fire, killing it
The sister says of the opossum, "You shot its tongue off. The poor thing.... oh my God. This is way more bloodier than the skunk."
New York: Several teens filmed themselves gleefully torturing a turtle to death. Maximum punishment? $250 fine and "up to 15 days in jail". But we all know that jail time will NEVER happen.