Clearwater (WTFF) – A viral video featuring a man shooing a frightened raccoon into the ocean to drown has launched an FWC investigation.
“Get off my fucking boat!” Cope yells at the petrified raccoon as it scurries around the bow.
“We’re just going to have to push him off,” he says behind the camera.
Cope continues yelling at the poor creature, chasing it away until it falls off the boat into the ocean.
The video zoomed in to show the raccoon paddling for dear life.
“So long, sucker,” hissed Cope as he watched the mammal struggle to stay afloat.
The boat was “well offshore,” about 20 miles out, according to Cope’s original Facebook post. (Tampa Bay Times)
There was a great deal of laughter coming from Cope and his friends.
Thomas Cope works at the Cope Zebro & Crawford, P.L. law firm, a professional limited liability company. Attorneys using P.L. after their name are better protected against malpractice suits. Cope started out as a prosecutor and then worked for a Florida insurance defense firm, according to his bio.
The personal injury lawyer “apologized,” according to the Tampa Bay Times, claiming in a statement that “the animal was running around the boat hissing and growling, making it impossible for me or my friend to drive the boat.”
He continued by saying, “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.”
“I feel bad for the animal and I’m sorry for what I did,” he added.
Cope quickly removed his personal and company Facebook pages after the incident, according to a post.
Joe Patrice, the senior editor at Above the Law wrote an article in Cope’s defense, saying, “I’m not sure it’s fair to fault this guy for not coming up with the best plan while a furry rabies vector ran around his boat.” The blog post did not mention the fact that Cope was laughing and taking sadistic pleasure in the demise of the animal.
The FWC said they are currently investigating the incident, and that they take it very seriously.
“It is still too early to speculate as to what violations took place in this incident,” the wildlife agency’s statement said. “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.”
Anyone with new information is asked to call the FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-3922.
The Florida Bar has opened an investigation into what Thomas Cope did with the raccoon, but did not specify what part of the rules of professional conduct his actions might have violated, reports the Tampa Bay Times.
This Florida Bar investigation comes on top of another one launched on May 8 by the FWC.