TIME animals

Teens Deny Felony Animal Torture Charges After Microwaving Kitten

The two girls appeared in front of a judge in Portland Thursday and denied they meant any real harm to the kitten

Two Portland teens told a judge Thursday they didn’t mean to torture a kitten when they microwaved it earlier this year. The teens, who were then 15, posted a video of the ordeal on the social media site Vine and are facing federal charges as a result.

The girls’ attorney told the Portland Press Herald they thought it would be a funny joke for social media, but after their Vine went viral the swift response was proof the prank left few people laughing.

The teens received threats via social media, are reportedly the victims of bullying at school, and are facing felony counts of animal cruelty—a charge that is punishable by 5 years in prison and a $5,000 fine for adults. Because the girls are juveniles their punishment likely won’t be that severe. The Portland Press Herald reports the girls must also undergo a psychological evaluation before their next court appearance.

“Torturing an animal is a marker for some serious behavioral problems but we don’t know if these defendants fit that profile,” said Cumberland County District Attorney Stephanie Anderson.

The girls were originally charged with misdemeanors, but the charge was lifted when the health of the kitten began to deteriorate. Animal Rescue workers and a local veterinarian that has dealt with microwaved pets in the past said the kitten’s condition could have been the result of either the microwave incident or a intense flea infestation. The kitten, named Miracle, survived and is currently “thriving” and under the watchful eye of its adopted owner.

[Portland Press Herald]

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