WILMINGTON — District Attorney Ben David’s office has dismissed charges against Michael Hinson, who was charged with three counts of misdemeanor cruelty to animals and one count of misdemeanor abandonment.
According to an announcement Tuesday afternoon, the alleged violations of the law were related to a fish that Animal Services Division deputies believed to have been owned by Hinson. Because fish are not protected under these statutes, all charges against Hinson are dismissed.
“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.”
The announcement comes after various national and international outlets reported on the charges brought against Mr. Hinson in the past week, including Washington Post, NBC News, and even the Drunya News of Pakistan.
According to WECT, Hinson was arrested last Wednesday after he allegedly failed to provide food or water for his pet Oscar fish after he was evicted from his home on Friday, March 22. When civil unit deputies from the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office went to his home the following Monday, they noticed the fish was left behind in poor health and in a dirty tank.
The fish was later brought to Ethan Lane at the Fish Room in Wilmington, where it appeared to be suffering from so-called hole in the head disease.
“When this fish came in, he was in pretty bad shape. Hole in the head is a parasite that starts in the intestines and works from the inside out, slowly killing the fish,” Lane told the WECT.