Outrage Grows Over Photos of Young Men Abusing Opossum

Almost as soon as they were posted on Snapchat last week, disturbing images of three young Pennsylvania partygoers abusing an opossum went viral and outrage quickly spread worldwide.

In the images, the opossum is seen being forced to drink beer, being kissed by one of the young men and curled up at the bottom of the garbage can where it had been dumped.

The abusers have been identified as David Snook, Michael Tice and Morgan Ehrenzeller, who is a student at Bloomsburg University.

After being flooded with angry phone calls, the university issued a statement on Facebook condemning the acts of cruelty. It said it would investigate the incident and take disciplinary action against violations of its student code of conduct. “We are taking this matter very seriously and do not condone the actions depicted on social media,” the university stated.

Kenzi Kemmerer, a senior at Bloomsburg University, told WNEP she had seen the three abusers chasing the opossum up an alley with a bat. “I was really, really upset because, personally I think that’s wrong to do to any kind of animal, doesn’t matter if it’s wildlife, doesn’t matter if it’s a dog or a cat, like you shouldn’t be doing that.”

The opossum was a familiar sight in the Bloomsburg neighborhood, according to Rebecca Shuman, a neighbor of the house party’s host. “My kids named it Pete,” she told WNEP. “So to know we live next to someone who could do something so inhumane, it’s scary.”

Along with Bloomsburg University, the Pennsylvania Game Commission also conducted an investigation into the incident.

NO ANIMAL CRUELTY CHARGES?

Pennsylvania used to have some of the country’s weakest animal cruelty laws, but in August, “Libre’s Law” (HB 1238) was enacted, making animal cruelty a felony offense in some situations. The law was named after a sick Boston terrier, later named Libre, who was rescued from a puppy farm where he’d been left to die alone in a pen.

Under section 5533 of Libre’s Law, animal cruelty is defined as when someone “intentionally, knowingly or recklessly ill-treats, overloads, beats, abandons or abuses and animal and the treatment causes bodily harm to the animal.” Felony aggravated cruelty is defined under section 5534 as “torturing an animal or violating either of the above sections and causing serious bodily injury or death of an animal.”

That’s why it’s so shocking, then, that the three men involved in the disturbing opossum images are not facing any animal cruelty charges, according to news reports.

Instead, the Pennsylvania Game Commission has only charged Ehrenzeller, Snook and Tice with two violations: disturbance of game or wildlife, and unlawful taking or possession of game or wildlife. The harshest punishment the three are facing is up to a $1,500 fine and three months in jail for the first charge, and a $200 fine for the second one. (Bloomsburg University has not yet announced whether it will expel or otherwise discipline Ehrenzeller.)

According to the Pennsylvania Game Commission and Bloomsburg University, the opossum survived its ordeal. It was apparently “playing possum” at the bottom of the trash can and was either set free or escaped – although several people commenting on social media say the opossum was later beaten with a bat and set on fire.

It seems pretty clear that those three young men “intentionally, knowingly or recklessly ill-treated” that poor opossum, whether or not it survived. There are disturbing images to prove it.

TAKE ACTION

Please sign and share this petition telling Columbia County District Attorney Thomas E. Leipold to charge Ehrenzeller, Snook and Tice with animal cruelty – and if the opossum died, charge them with a felony of the third degree, for which each abuser would face up to seven years in jail and/or a $15,000 fine.

Photo credit: Heather M Hockenberry/Facebook

210 comments

joan s
joan silaco4 days ago

TYFS

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M. M
M. M6 days ago

Petition signed. If they do this to an animal... how will they behave towards an human being? They were several and only one opossum... and they felt the need to post it? Wish it was the opposite and see how they enjoyed several opossums having fun with them... Human are also animals... and unfortunately sometimes not rational -_-

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Julie B
Julie B7 days ago

Iam sorry of some spell mistakes ~ being 'emotions punishments vulnerable'. As it appears All three words are very important........

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Julie B
Julie B7 days ago

This has brougjt alot of emptipns in people. Most importantly we want/need to know the outcome of the pumishments. They need education in respect in the ones vulnerable be it Animal Kingdom and any Human being ~ who maybe vulblnerable? So ~ JUSTICE IS called upon. Caring Humans DEMAND this. Hopefully some people agree too :) thank you

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Nicole H
Nicole H7 days ago

To Kerrie G : If I would write here what I really think, it would not be the nicest piece of poetry on this site. So, I will just recommend you : Do not write any further comments, if they are all like that. Thanks.

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Nicole H
Nicole H7 days ago

And this is the generation that will follow up the people who are actually still working, but are going on pension in a couple of years. I doubt very much that their common sense, their respect for animals - and for people as well I presume - and their compassion will change that much in a couple of years that they will be able to fulfill their duties once they have a job ??? These are a bunch of idiots, having a lot of fun in cruelty and torturing a small wildlife animal. Even a kid of 12 knows you should never give beer to such a small creature. And they have a lot of fun !! My God, they had such a good laughter. Well, YOU DISGUST ME. I sincerely hope that the Judge will put an example here, and that each of you get a jail sentence of at least 3 years, without parool. A fine is, in my opinion ridiculous, as most probably mom and dad will pay that to keep their beloved son out of jail !! No way !! These bastards are a threat to the society. When doing such horrible things to a lovable creature, and not realizing what harm they are doing, they will most certainly in a couple of months, amuse themselves with torturing young kids, or raping young girls. Must I continue ?? Surely not, each of you understand very well where we are going to !! Therefore, no compassion : a severe jail sentence, expelled from college and university, and never own / possess a pet for the rest of their lives. Voilà !!

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Pat P
Pat P7 days ago

Opossums are sweet gentle and vulnerable--especially as victims to malicious bullies--blooming sociopaths!
Who breeds cretins like these reprehensible monsters, that find it amusing to beat a helpless animal, set her on fire, terrify it, cause immense physical and emotional suffering--which could have resulted in death. They would not have cared, since the entire ordeal was a joke to these psychos! Torturing this poor living being will cause indefinite fear of humans and whatever other scarring and pain resulted from their freakishly cruel behavior.
These wastrels are a danger to ALL vulnerable living creatures. They should be expelled from college, sent to prison and not allowed ANY animal contact--domestic or wildlife.

It should not be necessary to warn society of the danger these three torturers present to ALL sentient beings. If they haven't done these horror before, without severe punishment, they will be a serious threat--like all serial killers. NO living being should be victimized by them, because our society was not strict enough in protecting potential victims and penalizing them for severe cruelty!

One of these creeps being related to D.A., Cory Snook means it is even more imperative that three involved in this horror are given the maximum punishment for well-deserved felony criminal punishment--to assure NO ONE gets off unethical/illegally due to "special treatment" for having connections! NO ONE protected the opossum with "sp

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AL L
AL Lim8 days ago

signed and hope these monsters are severely punished with huge publicity so that can deter others from doing that

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Past Member
Past Member 8 days ago

Opossums are the only marsupials found outside Australian territory. They have been on this earth far longer than humans! The poor creature that these cowards chose to torture and murder was a female: one can tell by her size and her coat, and she probably had babies in her pouch that definitely could not possibly have survived the abuse of their mother--thus meeting the "causing death" requirement for the felony charges. Male adult opossums are not docile at all, have fangs and claws and would have fought fiercely against these criminals. Remember, it's all to true that someone who has fun torturing animals is someone who will also think it's fun to molest and harm smaller, weaker, and/or younger humans, too! STOP these 3 miscreants before they grab someone's child!

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Sonia M

Disgusting.Petition signed thanks for sharing

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