Incident Date: Wednesday, Dec 12, 2007
Charges: Felony CTA
Case Images: 1 files available
Two Lower Lake High School girls were in Juvenile Hall on Wednesday, [April 2, 2008] facing animal cruelty charges for allegedly microwaving a hamster.
The hamster, Bugsy, survived, but later chewed off three feet that were badly burned and had turned black, said Lake County Animal Control Officer Morgan Hermann.
"Now (Bugsy) has one leg," she said.
The girls, ages 14 and 15, allegedly put the hamster in the microwave twice because they were bored. The second time, they saw that Bugsy's feet were cooking, Hermann said.
The girls said they wanted to see the hamster go around and around on the plate in the microwave, said Clearlake Police Officer Carl Miller. They also briefly placed the hamster in a freezer, he said.
The hamster was a birthday gift from the 14-year-old to the 15-year-old, Miller said. The girls' names were not released because they are juveniles.
The incident occurred in December at the 15-year-old's home, but it was not reported to Animal Control and police until late March, after the students had been released for spring break.
The girls were arrested and booked into Juvenile Hall after they returned to school Monday, March 31, 2008. The District Attorney's Office on Wednesday [April 2, 2008] charged them with felony animal cruelty, Miller said.
Bugsy's ordeal came to light because the girls had told other students what they'd done, Miller said.
The girls have admitted to microwaving Bugsy, Miller said. But he said the girls told him they didn't think Bugsy would die because they'd only left the pet in the microwave for about 5 seconds.
"I don't think they think they did anything wrong, which is scary for teenage girls," said Clearlake Police spokesman Lt. Mike Hermann.
Their stay in Juvenile Hall may change that, he said.
A Juvenile Court judge will determine today whether to release the girls or keep them for another 72 hours, Miller said.
The judge also will decide their punishment, which could range from probation to a maximum of one year in the California Youth Authority, which he said was unlikely.
Miller said the girls' parents were unaware of what had happened to the hamster. When he told the 15-year-old's mother, she was first in disbelief, then shock, he said.
Despite the trauma and missing feet, Bugsy apparently is chubby, doing well and has been released to a teacher who had been caring for the animal for several weeks.
"He can jump out of a shoe box. He runs on his nubs," Miller said.
Last year, two teenage girls were arrested in connection with setting a kitten on fire in Santa Rosa's Apple Valley neighborhood and faced animal cruelty charges.
The tale of the treatment and recovery of the kitten -- dubbed Adam the Cat -- drew widespread attention.