Video of Man Attacking and Killing Wildlife in Queens Leads to Arrest by ASPCAHeinous act was recorded by suspect and posted online; Case highlights need for stronger laws to protect wild animals
NEW YORK—The ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) today announced the arrest of Jordan Heuer for attacking, injuring and causing the death of an opossum inside Peck Park in Fresh Meadows, Queens.
The investigation of this case began after complaints about an online video depicting an opossum being struck repeatedly by the suspect and his accomplices were received by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). PETA submitted this information to the ASPCA’s Legal Advocacy and Humane Law Enforcement departments, which launched a criminal investigation in September 2012.
Heuer, 18, was arrested by ASPCA Humane Law Enforcement agents on Monday, December 3. He was charged with one count of misdemeanor animal cruelty. If convicted, he faces up to one year in jail and/or a $1,000 fine. Heuer’s court date is scheduled for January 10, 2013. Additional arrests in this case are possible.
“This is a disturbing case of violent abuse in which the suspect went out of his way to not only inflict pain on a helpless animal victim by smashing it repeatedly on its head with a rock, but to also record and post the brutal event on the Internet,” said Stacy Wolf, vice president and chief counsel of the ASPCA’s Humane Law Enforcement and Legal Advocacy departments. “Despite the extreme depravity of the acts resulting in the opossum’s death, this is still only a misdemeanor offense in New York. This is precisely the sort of case that supports making the more callous acts that cause serious injury or death to wild animals into felony offenses.”
Under current New York law, felony animal cruelty charges can only be brought in cases involving companion animals. Such charges carry a penalty of up to two years in jail and/or a $5,000 fine.
“This case demonstrates a clear need to expand state felony animal cruelty laws to cover wild animals,” added Bill Ketzer, senior director of ASPCA Government Relations for the Northeast region. “We will continue to work with legislators on this very important initiative to help shape laws to cover these types of especially heinous acts, regardless of whether the animal victim is a pet or a wild animal.”
This is the latest case of wildlife abuse in New York state. In October 2012, a duck was discovered on Long Island with an arrow protruding from its neck; in June 2010, two teenagers were arrested in Suffolk County after they set fire to a turtle while it was still alive and then killed it by stabbing it through its shell with a metal pole.
To report animal cruelty in New York City, the ASPCA encourages the public to contact its Humane Law Enforcement department at 877-THE-ASPCA (843-2772) or [email protected]. For crimes in progress, individuals should call 911. Outside of New York City, individuals should contact their local humane organization or police department.