A man is facing animal cruelty and abandonment charges after he chose to leave his pet fish behind when he was evicted from his house last month. The fish was left without food and in a dirty tank. When the pet was discovered by authorities, it was taken to a pet shop for evaluation.
Michael Hinson, the owner of the fish, was evicted from his home in Wilmington, North Carolina last month. Instead of taking his fish with him, he left it in the house in a dirty tank and without any food.
Last week, authorities found the 6-inch-long fish and transported it to The First Room, a pet store that specializes in fish and supplies. The staff discovered the fish was suffering from hole in the head disease, a condition that causes lesions and can be deadly.
“It’s amazing this fish survived,” said shop employee Brett Edwards on Monday, according to a report by NBC News. “I have personally never seen a case this bad.”
Edwards said that about 15 holes were found in the head of the fish when it was initially brought to the store. Now, just dents remain where the holes once were.
Edwards explained that the disease can occur when a fish is left in “very, very poor conditions for quite some time.”
This particular fish managed to survive without food being provided by its owner by feeding on cockroaches that happened to land in the tank.
On Wednesday, 53-year-old Hinson was charged with three counts of misdemeanor cruelty to animals and one count of abandonment of an animal.
Lt. Jerry Brewer of the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office said this is the first animal cruelty case in the county that involved a pet fish, adding that the fish “is a life like any dog or cat.”
The fish is still being treated by The Fish Room and is expected to make a full recovery. However, Edwards notes that it is challenging to determine when this fish will be fully healed based on the severity of the case.
“We’re doing everything in our power to get this fish back healthy,” said Edwards.
Once the fish has recovered, law enforcement officials will work to find it a new home.