Back in November of 2019 a horrible video of two teens stomping and kicking an injured whitetail deer they shot went viral online. The short video clips show Alex Smith 18 and Cody Hetrick reportedly 16 as they laugh maniacally while ripping off the deer’s antler with blood gushing out.
The deer in the video is clearly trying to escape while in extreme distress but the two teens carry on videoing the encounter with glee.
Warning, the videos are all graphic in nature:
There was also a video on Facebook showing Alex Smith and friend Clayton Miller smashing a groundhog (they had reportedly purposely run over) against a cement highway barrier repeatedly. Clayton is seen in a picture on their now removed social media that shows him posing with a thumbs up next to the blood splatter.
On January 10th Pennsylvania officials charged the two teens involved in the deer incident with multiple counts of felony and misdemeanor animal cruelty under “Libre’s Law” which the Humane Society of the United States battled hard to get passed in the state two years prior.
The charges include; four felony counts of aggravated cruelty to animals, one misdemeanor count of corruption of minors, a misdemeanor count of cruelty to animals, a misdemeanor count of altering or destroying physical evidence, and summary offenses of disturbance of animal or wildlife, unlawful taking of game or wildlife, unlawful hunting devices or methods and a hunting violation.
Smith, who was arraigned and released on $50,000 bail, is reportedly the stepson of the Brookville, Pennsylvania, Chief of police who said he was sickened when he saw the video.
Hetrick’s family owns “The Devils BBQ” who’s Facebook page was flooded with negative reviews speaking about what their son had done.
Passed back in 2017 Libre’s Law is an animal cruelty statute that created felony-level penalties for those who would commit disgusting acts of cruelty on animals. This case is what this law was made for.
U.S. Senator Pat Toomey, Governor Tom Wolf, and state Reps. Todd Stephens and Ryan Bizzarro all spoke out calling for these two men to be charged both with state and federal laws for the shocking behavior they displayed openly in the videos.
This case is setting a precedent for any other cases of wildlife or animal abuse in the future thanks to the charges that have been filed. Animal cruelty was basically a slap on the wrist summary offense in Pennsylvania before Libre’s Law was passed.
Even the most vile and disgusting acts of animal cruelty didn’t receive the penalties or charges they truly deserved before the new law came into effect.
The law was inspired by a dog from a puppy mill (a huge problem here in Pennsylvania) named Libre. Even though the law came about because of this puppy mill dog it covers not only companion animals but all animals including wildlife from cruelty.
This incident and outcome shows just how important it really is for all of us to keep our eyes and ears open at all times so that we can be ready to report animal cruelty when we see it occurring in person or on social media as was the instance in this case.
All of those who reported these videos and photos on Facebook are heroes. Thank you for creating a group to discuss and share information that led to these two men being charged.
The online petition that was created for this case asking that criminal charges be pressed was signed by over 700,000 people. This truly made a difference and kept this case from just being swept under the rug.
A big thanks goes out to the Pennsylvania Game Commission and Jefferson County District Attorney Jeff Burkett who acknowledge this crime for what it was and for bringing charges against the two men who committed such heinous acts.
Pennsylvania state Rep. Tony DeLuca is set to soon introduce a bill that will allow the Pennsylvania Game Commission to revoke hunting licenses for anyone who has ever been convicted of animal abuse. This newest bill will help to shore up Libre’s Law for wildlife making sure offenders cannot legally be allowed to kill animals.
Hopefully, these horrible acts will be kept from happening again by making an example of these two young men and by passing the new bill that will remove their ability to interact with wildlife like this again.
Below is a gallery of screenshots detailing some of those who made this possible by saving and sharing information that led to a conviction.