Charges dropped against man accused of abandoning pet fish

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NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — The New Hanover County District Attorney has dropped animal cruelty and abandonment charges against a man who left his fish behind after he was evicted.

53-year-old Michael Hinson was charged after the fish, which had developed a parasitic disease due to its living conditions, was found in a dirty tank.

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In a news release Tuesday afternoon, District Attorney Ben David said while he appreciates the enforcement of the law to protect vulnerable animals, fish are not protected under the statutes relating to the cruelty to animals or misdemeanor abandonment charges.

Under the statue, the term “animal” includes every living vertebrate in the classes Amphibia, Reptilia, Aves, and Mammalia except human beings.

“The Animal Services Division serves a vital function for our community,” David said. “We take a very dim view of anyone who would abuse any creature great or small and appreciate their enforcement of the laws to protect vulnerable animals. Fish are not included in this statute, however, so my office is dismissing these charges.”



Three counts of misdemeanor cruelty to animals and one count of misdemeanor abandonment against Hinson have been dropped.

If you or someone you know is in crisis or having difficulty caring for a pet, contact the Animal Services Division at (910) 798-7500.