Please. Do. Not. Get. A. Pet. If. You. Think. This. Is. Okay.
Authorities in New Hanover County, North Carolina, arrested Michael Ray Hinson on animal cruelty charges after he "allegedly failed to provide fresh water and food to his pet fish and abandoned it after he was evicted from his home last month," according to a report from WECT News.
Officials say this is the first time that animal cruelty charges have been brought in the county in a case involving a fish.
Wilmington man faces three counts of animal cruelty charges for allegedly abandoning pet fish #NemosLifeMatters… https://t.co/DcfD4UeoyB— The Onslow Beat (@The Onslow Beat) 1554405050.0
Hinson was charged with three counts of misdemeanor cruelty to animals and one count of abandonment of an animal. He was released on a $4,000 bond, is set to appear in court Thursday.
According to Lieutenant Jerry Brewer, a spokesman for the New Hanover County Sheriff's Office, Hinson was evicted March 22 from his home in Wilmington. Deputies checked on the home three days later and discovered a fish tank in "deplorable" condition. The Oscar fish that was living inside the tank was suffering from hole-in-the-head disease, which is caused by a parasite.
The fish was taken to the Fish Room, an aquarium in Wilmington, where employees have been nursing it back to health.
"Hole in the head is a parasite that starts in the intestines and works from the inside out, slowly killing the fish," said Fish Room employee Ethan Lane.
As he told The State newspaper:
"It came in with a disease, hole in the head, which is a parasite that is caused by poor water quality and malnutrition 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."
Although authorities have not confirmed it, Lane says the fish survived by eating cockroaches that fell in its tank. It didn't eat for several days after it was brought to the Fish Room because it could not recognize what the food pellets in its tank were.
Hinson, meanwhile, faces criticism.
Wow. This is a rare but good acknowledgement by authorities that if you're going to keep an animal, you have a resp… https://t.co/PQXUjAJldI— Karin Brulliard (@Karin Brulliard) 1554399719.0
@Newsweek Good! He should be in jail!— Vic B. (@Vic B.) 1554439724.0
Aquatic animals like fish feel pain and suffer, yet they have few legal protections. Thank you to the New Hanover C… https://t.co/jcNsCljUNi— ALDF (@ALDF) 1554420607.0
Man faces charges for neglecting his fish 🐠 REMINDER: Just like dogs and cats, fish are individuals with unique ne… https://t.co/LhXj65832j— PETA (@PETA) 1554398107.0
Redefining idiocy in North Carolina: https://t.co/xLRRkVvcip https://t.co/xLRRkVvcip— Bob Horan (@Bob Horan) 1554317410.0
Take care of your pets, people.