On July 25, 2014, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission authorities arrested two teenaged girls for a horrible crime. Together, they'd found a small gopher tortoise. While one filmed the proceedings on her cell phone, the other teen cruelly tortured the poor tortoise by dousing it with alcohol, lighting it on fire, throwing it to the ground and eventually smashing it underfoot.
The video they took of this heartbreaking abuse went viral quickly, altering authorities to the crime. The girls now await formal charges by the State Attorney for the Fourth Judicial Circuit. They could be charged with felony animal cruelty -- a crime with a maximum possible sentence of five years in prison. In addition, they face possible misdemeanor charges for "taking, harassing, harming or killing" a gopher tortoise, which is a protected "threatened species" in Florida. The misdemeanor could result in six months in jail and/or a $500 fine.
The State Attorney, Angela Corey, is considering how to prosecute this case. She has announced, "We are committed to fully prosecuting those responsible for the torture and death of this vulnerable and threatened species."
If you'd like to encourage the State Attorney to follow through and prosecute this case to the fullest extent of the law -- and to get these girls the psychological help they clearly need -- please sign this petition.
Dear State Attorney Angela Corey:
Those who have signed this petition, like many other members of the public, were deeply distressed and angered to learn that two Florida teenagers within your jurisdiction reportedly tortured and killed a small, defenseless gopher tortoise in mid-July.
We understand that authorities have arrested these girls, one of whom is an adult and the other still a juvenile. We urge you to prosecute this crime to the fullest extent possible, charging them both with felon animal cruelty and misdemeanor taking, harassing, harming or killing a Florida threatened species.
We also urge you to engage the appropriate officials to find the emotional and psychological help it appears these girls badly need. Animal torture as a teenager is a significant warning sign that a young person has psychological problems. Perhaps with professional help it isn't too late to get these girls back on the right course.
We thank you for giving this matter the attention it deserves.
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