A Utah man, accused of animal cruelty, has been acquitted in a Salt Lake City courtroom. Andy Ray Harris ate a live baby rat on a video that was posted online in April. Harris argued that the act was “unusual and grotesque,” but not illegal.
Baby rat eaten on a dare
The 31-year-old Harris, from Tooele, Utah, was charged with a class A misdemeanor charge of aggravated animal abuse in April when the video was posted on Facebook. Harris says he ate the infant rodent on a dare.
The 45-second-long video clip, shot on March 16, showed the hairless newborn rodent struggling on a sheet of paper. Harris, urged on by others, then picked up the creature, popped it in his mouth and devoured it. A small crowd is seen cheering him on. Harris then is seen taking a drink from a large mug and high-fiving somebody standing off camera.
The video link was forwarded to the Tooele City Attorney’s Office after being spotted by a member of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
‘Not an accepted husbandry practice’
The prosecution in the case argued that the act should be considered animal cruelty because the rat was of a domesticated variety and the death happened in an unnatural fashion. “A person eating a live baby rat on a dare is not an accepted husbandry practice,” it was argued.
Rats have ‘no legal protections’
Harris successfully countered the prosecution’s arguments by saying that, because the rat was doomed to be eaten by a snake anyway, “it made no difference.” He also argued that “for centuries rats have been a scourge to humanity and should have no legal protections.”
Harris also pointed out that rats are often killed by exterminators in a far more painful fashion than being eaten, and yet they are not faced with criminal charges.
Judge Robert Adkins dismissed the charges in a Salt Lake City 3rd District Court last week.
Animal Advocacy Alliance of Utah: http://henryslaw.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=71:man-accused-of-eating-live-baby-rat-pleads-not-guilty
Salt Lake Tribune: http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/news/52672118-78/rat-harris-animal-ate.html.csp
Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/04/utah-rat-eater-has-animal_n_994767.html
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