Animal cruelty charges dropped against NC man accused of abandoning pet fish

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Left: Michael Ray Hinson (New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office) | Right: Oscar fish (Stock image/Getty)

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NEW HANOVER COUNTY, N.C. — A man, charged with abandoning his pet fish, saw his charges dismissed after prosecutors said fish don’t receive the same protections as other pets, WECT reports.

Michael Ray Hinson, 53, was facing three counts of misdemeanor cruelty to animals and one count of abandonment of an animal for allegedly failing to feed and change the water for his pet fish.

Hinson was evicted from his home on March 22 and left behind an oscar fish in a dirty fish tank, deputies said.

The fish appeared to be malnourished and suffering from hole in the head disease. It is being nursed back to health at The Fish Room in Wilmington.

“We take a very dim view of anyone who would abuse any creature great or small and appreciate [The Animal Services Division’s] enforcement of the laws to protect vulnerable animals,” District Attorney Ben David said, according to WECT. “Fish are not protected under these statues, therefore all charges against Mr. Hinson are dismissed.”

Oscar fish are valued at about $40-$50, Ethan Lane, with The Fish Room, told WECT.

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