EL CENTRO, Calif. - Imperial Valley Humane Society Director Devon Apodaca said he will never forget this Valentine’s Day. But not for the usual reasons.
“On the night of Valentine’s Day, the shelter was tagged in a post,” Apodaca said.
The social media post showed a video of three teenagers with a mouse they had allegedly bought at an El Centro pet store.
“We contacted El Centro Police Department right away,” Apodaca said.
He said the video showed the teens committing an act of animal cruelty. Under California Penal Code 597, that is a misdemeanor or a felony.
“No animal deserves to be tortured to death for the enjoyment of another person,” Apodaca said.
He said all lives matter.
“All life is to be appreciated and all living creatures need to be loved and respected,” Apodaca said.
El Centro parent Angela Zinn Martinez is upset over the video.
“It’s upsetting that anyone would do that to an animal. I think it’s upsetting that kids did it. And there were other kids around. There was one kid, I’m sure, who had the idea and was doing it. But the other kids – no one stepped in and said something, like, this is wrong,” Martinez said.
She’s concerned for the safety of kids who may come in contact with these teens.
“Those are the kids that our kids go to school with,” Martinez said.
El Centro psychologist Louis Blumberg said the teens need professional help.
“They should be seen by a professional along with their family, parents, and evaluated and see what’s going on,” Blumberg said.
He said each teen should be seen as an individual case.
“You have to see each one and talk to each one and then find out what their background. See if they have any criminal history,” Blumberg said.
Blumberg suggested that peer pressure may have been a factor.
“Peer pressure is a big thing. If there’s some peer pressure involved, not that that excuses anything, but gives you an idea of what the motivation might have been,” Blumberg said.
He advices the community to focus on healing.
“Should be outraged at the behavior but shouldn’t be judgmental on the teens,” Blumberg said.
Apodaca who has seen hundreds of cases of animal abuse just wants it to stop.
“This type of behavior is not going to be tolerated,” Apodaca said.