Bruce Blunt, the aptly named Chicago man charged with misdemeanor animal cruelty after a video of him blowing marijuana smoke into the face of his pet chameleon Binna went viral, has been acquitted by a Cook County circuit court judge.
Charges were levied against Blunt after People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals became aware of the video, which received more than half a million views. According to the Chicago Tribune, PETA’s complaint against Blunt led to Chicago’s Police department performing several days of surveillance work before apprehending Blunt.
Let us pause. Here is the direct quote from the Chicago Tribune: “Chicago police arrested Blunt near his mother’s home after conducting brief surveillance to find him over several days, according to trial testimony.”
Bruce Blunt is said to live on the west side of Chicago, so here, an experiment: Google “West Side Chicago” right now, click on “News” and see what comes up.
Did you by some chance see a series of very sad stories about gun violence? Did you for a minute think that this is what the front page of the news will look like on the first day of the cycle that ends with the Mad Max world coming to pass?
Also, how much do you think several days of surveillance costs? And then a trial, how much does that cost? More than nothing?
Judge Robert Kuzas, who gets paid for his job, acquitted Blunt after hearing testimony from attorneys who also get paid real money. After viewing video of Blunt with his lizard, Kuzas called his behavior, “Really, really uncalled for immature.”
Blunt maintains that marijuana has a calming effect on the lizard.
PETA’s cruelty casework director Stephanie Bell is quoted by the Tribune as saying, “Forcing any animal to breathe in smoke without their consent or understanding—especially of a mind-altering or psychoactive nature—it’s cruelty, and obviously local officials agreed with us.”
The Tribune article also quoted Chicago Veterinarian Dr. Susan Horton on the high frequency of birds being brought in for treatment following exposure to marijuana.
What are we to make of this story? It’s ridiculous that Chicago authorities expended so much energy capturing and attempting to prosecute a man for blowing a shotgun to a lizard, but it is also ridiculous to blow your lizard a shotgun.
If your lizard is behaving problematically, maybe do some research and expose it to cannabis responsibly. Or accept that lizards aren’t cuddly and get a warmer pet, maybe a hamster.