RADFORD, Va. – Investigators with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries are looking into a case of animal cruelty after an opossum was beaten with a board by three young men in Radford.
The woman who found the animal said the men stopped their vehicle on a road in Radford just to get out and beat it.
The Southwest Virginia Wildlife Center's executive director Sabrina Garvin said the woman reported disturbing details about the men’s behavior. “They were laughing, howling. Just thought this was great that they were hitting this opossum," Garvin said.
According to Garvin, the woman was able to step in, confront the men and take the opossum to a local rehabber with the Southwest Virginia Wildlife Center. Since, the animal was taken to their center in Roanoke where it's being treated for major head trauma.
The female opossum is carrying a litter of young. Garvin said the babies were found in her pouch while she was being treated for her injuries. Due to the litter being so young, the staff is unable to check them to see if they are healthy.
Garvin said it’s likely the opossum was searching for food to help feed her young.
She said the perpetrators' behavior is disturbing, not only because of the effect the beating had on the animal, but because of the characteristics shown by the men that could one day affect other people.
"There is a sickness there that we as a society need to be aware of and we need to stop this. (People who commit) Cruelty to animals are showing as they get older(that the behavior) progresses into other types of crimes. This is something that it isn't even funny. This is so, so very sad,” Garvin said.
An advocate for wildlife, Garvin said that opossums are a very important species that help eliminate the spread of Lyme disease by eating thousands of ticks each season.
Evidence has been turned over to the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries which is handling the investigation. If you have information on this crime call 1-800-237-5712 or click here.