ATHENS, OH (WCMH) — Athens city police confirm they are investigating a possible case of animal cruelty after an opossum was found badly burned late last week.
Licensed wildlife rehabilitator Gina Jackson says a student at Ohio University brought the animal to her last Friday. “I looked at her and immediately my heart just dropped,” Jackson said. “We do get abuse cases. Every year they come in. This is by far the most horrific I’ve ever seen.”
“It was very obvious to me that she was burned,” Jackson said. “She had burns two inches wide all the way around her neck, all the way down her side, her ear was burned out with something round, she had some holes in her cheek as well as her neck. Her tongue was completely black, the roof of her mouth all the way to the back of her throat.”
Jackson says she sedated the opossum and started IV fluids and antibiotics but the animal died Monday morning.
Jackson says, at any one time, she’s caring for several dozen wildlife animals. “My house is full of animals,” Jackson said. “A lot of these were abused by teenagers… I do my best to save the animals. I do my best to rehabilitate them. Sometimes they need physical therapy. Sometimes they just need time to heal their bodies and then a couple months later they can be released again and go back and be free. So we try to give them a chance.”
Jackson says animals that cannot be released back into the wild are used for education. “I’ll go to schools or Boy Scout or Girl Scout events and take some of these animals and let them get to know them, let them see that they’re not scary, that they’re actually kind of cute when you get up close to them.
Jackson says she has been in contact with the Athens City Law Department and has been assured the matter is under investigation.
A charged of animal cruelty involving wild animals in Ohio typically carries a maximum penalty of 90 days in jail and a $750 fine.