File this story under, “What the heck did you just say?”

A 53-year-old North Carolina man has found himself in hot water after it was discovered that he was not properly caring for his 6-inch pet Oscar fish. Local authorities are coming down hard on the North Carolina man, charging him with three counts of misdemeanor cruelty to animals and one count of abandonment of an animal.

53-year-old Michael Ray Hinson was behind bars before being released on $4,000 bond, WRAL reported.

Lt. Jerry Brewer says it’s the county’s first animal cruelty case involving a pet fish, but this “is a life like any dog or cat.”

According to the Charlotte Observer – The 53-year-old abandoned the fish after he was evicted from his New Hanover County home March 22, according to WECT. When the Oscar fish was found by deputies March 25, it was “was in poor health and swimming in a dirty tank,” the TV station reported.

“It came in with a disease, hole in the head, which is a parasite that is caused by poor water quality and malnutrition,” Lane told The State. “It was a pretty severe case of the disease, which opens sores and lesions on the fish’s head. It is an infection that can be fatal.”

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The fish is being treated with medicine and a healthy diet, something it was not accustomed to, Lane said.

A spokesman for the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office said this is the first time his office has charged a person with animal cruelty toward a fish, WECT reported. But the county will not stand for abuse of any animal.

“If you harm or neglect an animal in New Hanover County, we are coming for you,” Lt. Jerry Brewer said, according to the TV station.

Hinson was charged with three counts of misdemeanor cruelty to animals and one count of abandonment of an animal, WRAL reported.

The Oscar fish won’t be returned to Hinson, but its final destination has not been determined.

While it might be put up for adoption, the unnamed fish might also take up permanent residence at The Fish Room, where it would serve as a store mascot, according to Lane. He also said they might set up a tank for the fish at the sheriff’s office since “they saved him.”

Over the years, we’ve witnessed an untold number of goldfish floating to the top of the tank, after dying while in the care of our young daughters. Who would’ve thought we’d have to worry about one of them ending up behind bars?

What do you think? Have the authorities crossed the line with the arrest of this 53-year-old man? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below.


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