MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WKRN) – Two Middle Tennessee State University football players were kicked off the team after an investigation into animal abuse.
Video of one of the players striking a puppy was posted to Snapchat and is causing outrage.
Former MTSU red shirt football player Shalom Alverez is seen pulling the puppy from under a bed and striking it multiple times. The puppy yelps each time it was hit.
Former Defensive End Justin Akins is heard on the video saying, “[Expletive] you don’t pay rent.”
Coach Rick Stockstill released a statement on Friday saying in part, “I feel it is important to consider the facts carefully, and seek input from others with information and expertise, before reaching a decision.”
He went on to say, “I have decided to dismiss Justin Akins and Shalom Alvarez from our football team. Their actions were in violation of the values and standards of our program.”
The players apparently told coaches they were simply disciplining the puppy because it had urinated on the floor.
At the Bark Park in Murfreesboro, sisters Holly and Heather Arnold had to give their little puppy a hug after watching the video.
“We just lost our 17-year-old dog and to see that it’s sad because people don’t appreciate the dogs they have, so that’s why I had to give Pipper a hug because once you lose a dog you realize you don’t ever want to cause them any pain because they are the most loyal compassions,” Heather Arnold said.
“That dog is so small it’s probably the size that person’s hand, so just hitting it probably traumatic but that I couldn’t image just hitting my little dog,” Holly Arnold said. “Of course you have to have some sense of reprimand when it comes to that but beating them is going to put fear in them.”
Others are reserving judgement.
“You can’t say that they were meaning to abuse this animal maybe that’s the way they were trained this animal, so it’s hard to say if they are truly guilty or not on this,” dog owner Matthew Firkins said.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) would like to see something done.
PETA Senior Director Stephanie Bell released the following statement.
“PETA is calling for authorities to check on the puppy’s welfare and for cruelty to animals charges against both the abuser and the person who filmed the violent act, in addition to their suspensions. Viciously striking a puppy is a violation of Tennessee’s anti-cruelty statute—and that the cruel act was filmed and bragged about on social media is cause for even more concern. Abusing animals and bragging about it indicates a lack of empathy and self-control that will surely have even more consequences if not dealt with at the root.”
Murfreesboro police say the investigation is ongoing, but so far no charges have been filed. The puppy wasn’t injured.