On Tuesday 19-year-old Monique Smith of Bushwick in Brooklyn was arrested by law enforcement agents from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and charged with aggravated cruelty to animals, which is a felony for which a two year prison sentence can be delivered.
The trouble began when Theresa Smith, 47, mother of 12, bought her 9-year-old son a hamster. One day a few months later the hamster was playing on the floor in her exercise ball when another son, age 25, became incensed and kicked the hamster ball across the room.
“He kicked it deliberately, the ball flew across the room, the hamster flew out of the ball, and it died” Ms. Smith said. “When the older son finally calmed down, he really felt terrible” she added.
To try and make up for the death of the hamster, the older son bought three new hamsters for the younger son. But this turn of events only caused anger to flare in a sister, Monique, age 19. One day Monique took one of the hamsters out of her cage and threw her on to the floor, where she died instantly.
This event happened nine months ago, on June 7, 2010. This week the suspect, who authorities described as evasive and uncooperative, was finally brought to justice. The son who originally killed the first hamster was not arrested.
Joseph Pentangelo, assistant director of humane law enforcement for the ASPCA explained that animal cruelty laws apply to all creatures, from the larges to the smallest.
“It may be a fish, it may be a hamster, it may not be the type of a pet that people commonly hold dear” Mr. Pentangelo said. “But to the people who own them, they are.”