New Hanover County District Attorney Ben David told news outlets Tuesday that 53-year-old Michael Hinson is no longer charged with animal cruelty and abandonment. He says fish aren't protected under related statues that define "animal" as amphibians, reptiles, bird and mammals, excluding humans.
Officials say Hinson was evicted from his Wilmington home last month and left behind an unhealthy Oscar fish in a dirty tank. He was arrested last week after officials found the 6-inch fish, which is being nursed back to health at an aquarium store.
Sheriff's Lt. Jerry Brewer said this was the county's first animal cruelty case involving a fish.