Clearwater Attorney, Thomas Cope forced a baby raccoon from his boat, twenty miles away from the shore, and he’s now being investigated and potentially tried for leaving the animal to die.
Much like the tagline, “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas,” Florida has been labeled with its own tagline: “Only in Florida” under the category of Weird News. The tagline is so popular, it now merits its own annual roundup of weirdest news and craziest stunts of year. This lawyer’s act of animal cruelty is no exception.
In his now-deleted Youtube video, shared to Facebook, Thomas Cope shows a baby raccoon stowaway that showed itself twenty miles offshore. The baby was clearly stressed, rushing from one side of the boat to the other, looking for a place to hide or get off the boat.
The caption of the video read:
“Trash panda came out from hiding 20 miles from dock! Anyone else had these things squat on their boat? *watch muted if you don’t like profanity*”
In the background, Cope and another man can be heard chiding the animal, with such exclamations as:
“Get off my fucking boat! What the fuck is wrong with you?”
At the end of the video, one of voices in the background stated:
“We’re just going to have to push him off.”
The next few seconds show the baby raccoon falling from the boat and treading aimlessly in the water, the final still of the video showing the baby’s face, looking for somewhere to go.
You can watch the video below:
Since the video went viral and the lawyer was publicly scorned on social media, Thomas Cope has since issued an apology.
“The animal was running around the boat hissing and growling, making it impossible for me or my friend to drive the boat.”
“Knowing raccoons can be rabid and unpredictable, the only realistic option we could think of in the moment was to get the raccoon off the boat.”
Nevertheless, an investigation is pending. Florida’s Wildlife Agency was alerted on May 8 to the video’s contents and they have since issued a statement regarding their progress:
“It is still too early to speculate as to what violations took place in this incident. However, the FWC would like to state that we believe these vile acts of animal cruelty have no place in our state or anywhere else.”
Raccoon-lovers and animal wellness advocates alike have taken to Twitter, enraged and coming up with their own lawsuits and outcomes that even this Tampa Bay lawyer can’t talk his way out of.
A Florida agency is investigating potential animal cruelty charges after Clearwater lawyer Thomas Cope, posted video of himself shooing a raccoon off his boat into the Gulf of Mexico. I certainly hope he’s charged, convicted, and loses his clients! 😤Samhttps://t.co/ArjrGKPIsL— Xpose Trophy Hunting (@XposeTrophyHunt) May 16, 2019
Here is an orphaned raccoon that my dogs and me raised. My dogs and me like raccoons a lot more than we like lawyers. pic.twitter.com/Yw9aVDPrmK— Faith Blackshadow (@FaithBl82032094) May 17, 2019
Raccoon just looked scared to me- not very aggressive. Wonder how it went unnoticed on the boat until they got 20 miles out? Clearly animal cruelty case here. Clearly not a very smart lawyer either...— Ed Benson (@TigerPilot1111) May 11, 2019
Sometimes I wonder how people pass the bar exam. Glad my bar has taken this seriously and is looking into it. #dontbeanasshole #animalrights— Docket_Rocket (@Docket_Rocket) May 18, 2019
Florida Bar opens investigation into Clearwater lawyer who shooed raccoon off his boat https://t.co/Nn5DYR1w34
I would love to sign that petition. We may not have too many Raccoons, but we definitely have too many lawyers.— harry hoge (@hoge_harry) May 16, 2019
Surely there was a more humane solution than leaving an animal to a miserable death.