WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- A New Hanover County woman posted pictures of herself with a mutilated animal on her Facebook page, and it's causing quite the stir on the Internet.
The images are so graphic and grotesque, we can't even look at them in the newsroom, but they've piqued the interest of investigators at the New Hanover County Sheriff's Office.
Wednesday a woman named Amber Baird reportedly posted pictures on her Facebook profile of her with a mutilated cat. Viewers began emailing us their concerns and links to the disturbing images.
Other Facebook users created the page "Amber Baird Mutilated a Cat?" Most comments are too vulgar to share, but one girl wrote, "This is disgraceful. That cat didn't do a thing. Poor little kitty."
Someone else said, "Yuck...She's from my home town."
Another simply wrote, "Evil."
The creator of the page wrote, "Perhaps she might explain this situation if the group becomes popular enough."
One viewer took a screenshot of a comment exchange between Baird and one of her friends that may offer some reasoning. A friend asked, "Did you kill it?" Baird's response: "Naw, found it on the side of the road."
We contacted the New Hanover County Sheriff's Office and found out the images had already made their way into the hands of an investigator. The detective on the case met with District Attorney Ben David Friday afternoon and decided Baird will not be criminally charged because there is no evidence she harmed the cat before it died.
We learned tonight New Hanover County Animal Control has handed down civil penalties against Baird. They include: a violation of health and wellness and teasing and molesting. Baird is required to pay a $400 fee. Detectives continue investigating the numerous death threats against Baird sparked by the photos.
HERE'S THE NEWS RELEASE FROM THE NEW HANOVER COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT:
NHSO Detectives Investigate Reports of Animal Cruelty
After receiving multiple calls from the 911 center and numerous calls to the Detective Division, New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office initiated an investigation into reports of animal cruelty. Detectives began the investigation with reports of pictures on multiple social media sites of a cat being killed and skinned. The suspect, Amber Baird an eighteen year old white female, had posted pictures of herself on a social media site with a skinned cat skull. Investigators interviewed Ms. Baird who admitted to skinning the cat but she stated that she and a friend found the cat dead on the side of the road. After speaking with the suspect and several other individuals, Detectives determined that the elements needed to file criminal charges had not been met due to the fact the feline was dead. According to North Carolina Statutes animal cruelty only applies to live animals.
Subsequently Detectives contacted animal control and have charged Amber Baird with violating County Civil Codes. She been charged with violating Health & Wellness and Teasing & Molesting, she also has been fined $400.00 by animal control.
The investigation is still ongoing due to the fact of the numerous death threats Amber Baird has received. Death Threats are a criminal violation and the NHSO Detective Division is following up on those leads. Further information will be released as it becomes available.
Sec. 5-12. Teasing and molesting.
It shall be unlawful for any person to maliciously tease, molest, bait or in any way bother any animal.
(Code 1978, § 3-12)
State law references: Authority to prohibit the abuse of animals, G.S. 153A-127.
Sec. 5-14. Health and welfare.
It shall be unlawful for any person to molest, torture, deprive of necessary sustenance, cruelly beat, needlessly mutilate or kill, wound, injure, poison, abandon or subject to conditions detrimental to its health or general welfare any animal or to cause or procure such action. The term "torture," "torment" or "cruelty" shall be held to include every act, omission or neglect whereby unjustifiable physical pain, suffering or death is caused or permitted; but such terms shall not be construed to prohibit lawful shooting of birds, deer and other game for human food, nor to prohibit animal control or its agents or the humane society or veterinarians from destroying dangerous, unwanted, sickly or injured animals in a humane manner.
(Code 1978, § 3-14)