Criminal Justice

Chameleon owner who blew pot smoke in its mouth is acquitted of animal cruelty

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A Chicago man who blew pot smoke in his chameleon’s mouth and posted a video of it on Facebook has been acquitted of a misdemeanor animal cruelty charge.

Judge Robert Kuzas of Cook County, Illinois, acquitted 40-year-old Bruce Blunt on Wednesday, the Chicago Tribune reports. Kuzas said Blunt’s behavior was “really, really uncalled for and immature” but it wasn’t criminal.

Blunt was charged and his chameleon was removed from his home after a complaint by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

Blunt told the Tribune the pot smoke seemed to calm the chameleon, named Binna, and he didn’t harm her. “I’ve never hurt an animal in my life,” he said. “I take in stray cats and dogs. I love animals, man.”

But veterinarian Susan Horton told the Tribune that veterinary clinics often have to treat birds after owners blow pot smoke in their faces. In one case she had to euthanize a cockatoo who suffered brain damage from the smoke, which can also cause seizures. Pet owners “think it’s funny, but it’s actually very cruel,” she said.

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