Judge sets $25K bond for accused animal abuser

Animal abusers beware!

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Broward Circuit Court Judge John Hurley is the new hero to animal advocates.

On Thursday, Hurley had the guts to tell a man accused of beating a raccoon to death that animal cruelty won't be tolerated.

On Wednesday, police arrested 26-year-old Joseph Amico and charged him with animal cruelty after a video surfaced on Facebook showing a raccoon being struck with a two-by-four inside a dumpster.

The incident happened in the 6800 block of N. State Road 7. The video showed the raccoon come out from under a dumpster and reach out for food. Police said Amico then hit the raccoon. The stunned animal then scurried into the garbage and died.

"This appears to be extremely cruel, gratuitous violence toward the animal," Hurley told Amico during a bond hearing on Thursday. "The arrest affidavit says the animal never attacked you, the animal never came at you. And, it says at some point, you took a swing at the raccoon with a two-by-four, fracturing its skull, causing it to die a slow, painful death."

Hurley, who had not even seen the video, was clearly disturbed by the allegations.

And he used the suspect's past to send a powerful message about the consequences of animal abuse.

It was then Amico's turn to be stunned.

After noting the suspect's criminal history, which included prison time for burglary and drug trafficking, Hurley raised Amico's bond from $2,500 to $25,000.

"It was just one time. All charges ran concurrent," Amico argued.

But his argument was dismissed with even stronger words.

"Based on your criminal record and the level of violence, most likely you'll go back to prison if convicted on this," Hurley said.

Thank you Judge Hurley. Here's hoping other judges will follow your lead.