Judge ruled creature is 'not a protected species' Andy Ray Harris had eaten baby creature 'for a dare'
A man accused of animal cruelty has walked free from court after appearing on video eating a live baby rat.
Andy Ray Harris was arrested after chewing and swallowing the tiny, pink rodent during a sickening 45-second clip.
But despite eating the hairless animal and washing it down with a mouthful of beer, Harris, from Tooele, Utah, escaped punishment in court after a judge ruled rats are not a protected species.
The 31-year-old had been charged with aggravated animal abuse in April after police were alerted to the footage which had drawn complaints from horrified internet users.
The disturbing 45-second clip shows the small pink rat squirming on top of a notepad in a pub.
A spectator is then heard goading Harris, by telling him to 'go on and eat it'.
He picks up the helpless creature, snarls at the camera and pushes it into his mouth before chewing for around five seconds and taking a drink.
Animal rights charity People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) reported it to police after a string of complaints.
Harris told police he ate the rat 'on a dare from my friends' but pleaded not guilty to a charge of aggravated animal abuse.
Prosecutors argued the baby rat deserved protection because it was not wild and was killed in a way that is 'not an accepted fashion'.
But last week Harris went away from court unpunished after the judge dismissed the charges against him, declaring that rats were not a protected species.
Harris admitted his actions were 'grotesque' but was not cruel.
He'd also claimed his actions were not cruel because the rat was going to be eaten by a snake.
He added that 'for centuries rats have been a scourge to humanity and should have no legal protections'.
This isn't my usual kind of rat post, but I thought it made a good point. Rats & other rodents kept as pets, are often thought of as 'disposable'. There's also a huge number of people who can't see rats as anything but a pest. Rats deserve the same protection other animals get. They are intelligent, are prominent in human history... & they're just plain adorable.
The fact the charges for this case were dismissed, is disgusting.