FWC says drowning isn't humane way to kill nuisance animals

Video shows Ocala teacher, students holding 2 raccoons, possum under water

By Erik Sandoval - Reporter

OCALA, Fla. - Questions surround what happened inside a Marion County agriculture class on Monday, where students say two raccoons and a possum were drowned with the help of a teacher.

The video shows Forest High School students helping the teacher hold a raccoon and its cage under water, and when it gasps for air, they're shown putting a hose inside its mouth and filling it with water.

"I got emotional when I saw the video," said News 6 legal analyst Steven Kramer.

Emotions aside, Kramer said he does not think what happened in the class was legal.

According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission website, raccoons are classified as wildlife that can become "nuisance animals." Any nuisance animal is still to be euthanized humanely.

What is humane and what is not?

The FWC refers to the Guidelines for Euthanasia of Animals, prepared by the American Veterinary Medical Association.

According to its latest publication, acceptable forms of euthanizing an animal include a single shot to the head. Unacceptable forms include drowning.

"Drowning is not a means of euthanasia and is inhumane,"  according to the AVMA guidelines.

"The goal is a humane death," said Kramer. "It is a death that is free from pain, from discomfort, from stress. It is to trying to minimize the animal's stress, and looking at the video does not appear that that is what happened."

News 6 brought this to the attention of FWC investigators on Thursday, and they said they could not comment.

FWC investigators said they will be finalizing their report and turning over what they find to the State Attorney's Office.

The superintendent of Marion County Schools has recommended the teacher be terminated.

Forest High School's FAA alumni on Wednesday posted their support for the teacher on Facebook.

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