Teacher Who Drowned Animals During Class Not Prosecuted

Teacher Who Drowned Animals During Class Not Prosecuted

The news of a Florida high school teacher forcing his students to participate in the drowning of two raccoons and an opossum went viral earlier this spring. The incident, which involved Forest High School teacher Dewie Brewton, sparked global outrage.

Petitions, phone calls, and emails flooded the Marion County School Board. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission recommended that Brewton be fired and prosecuted. He was not prosecuted nor fired and the school board let him retire with 31 years of service on May 17.

The Forest High School's Future Farmers of America Alumni Chapter callously posted a statement of support for Brewton. The reasoning was that he had done so much good that this lack of judgment should be overlooked. We wonder if the direct victims of this violence had been children instead of animals, how these same people would react. How do otherwise fairly ethical people overlook such an unconscionable act and what is wrong with an organization that teaches children that such blatant cruelty is okay?

The most puzzling question is why Assistant State Attorney Toby Hunt wrote that Brewton “did not intend to torture or torment” the animals. In Florida, as in most states, raccoons and possums can be defined as nuisance animals. Thus, killing them is not illegal. However, Florida State Law requires a humane death. According to the American Association of Zoo Veterinarians and the American Veterinary Association drowning is an “unacceptable” form of killing.

The decision not to prosecute Brewton is a disgrace. Two men in Ohio and two men in Georgia were charged with felonies during the same time period for the torture deaths of possums in both cases. What is wrong with Florida?

If it were not for the one brave student who videoed the incident, nothing would have happened at all. We must all continue to be a voice for exploited and cruelly-treated animals and humans. 

Our Justice for Animals Campaign is using strong ordinances and statutes and changing weak ones in the mid-South to gain the justice that both the animals and people are owed.

Please continue to follow our cases and to support our work.