Monroe family threatened over puppy thowing video

Monroe family threatened over puppy thowing video
MONROE, Wash. -- The controversial Internet video that purports to show a Marine throwing a puppy off a rocky cliff has triggered threats and harrassment against a local family related to the Marine shown in the video.

The low-quality video shows two Marines joking before one hurls the puppy into a rocky gully. A yelping sound is heard as it flips through the air.

The U.S. Marine Corps has identified the man who appears to throw the dog as a 22-year-old lance corporal. KOMO 4 News has learned the Marine's family lives in Monroe, though his name has not been released by military officials.

The Marine belongs to the 1st Battalion, 3rd Regiment based in Hawaii -- a unit that has returned from a tour in Iraq. Military officials said the video was apparently taped in the town of Haditha, Iraq. Military officials say the Marine has been pulled from training for the duration of the investigation.

"This is a shocking and deplorable video that contrary to the highest standards we set for every Marine," said Christopher Perrine with the U.S. Marine Corps. "We will investigate this and take appropriate action."

The 15-second video, which was posted to the video sharing Web site bebo.com then circulated on the Web, triggered public outrage. Some who recognized the Marine posted the phone number and address of his Monroe family on the Internet, prompting harassment.

The family received threatening phone calls over the weekend, but did not report them to the police. Snohomish County sheriff's spokesperson Rebecca Hover said patrol cars have been circling the home to make sure the family is left alone. The family has disconnected the phone line, according to the Everett Herald newspaper.

Military officials have not confirmed the authenticity of the tape, and animal rights organizations are pushing for a full investigation.

"There are cues in the audio that give us pause, but we have no conclusion, opinion on its validity," said Martin Mersereau, spokesman for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals in Norfolk, Va. "We feel it's absolutely necessary that investigators determine its legitimacy by speaking directly with all those who were involved."

An apparent discrepancy is in the audio of the puppy yelping as it is airborne. Though the dog is moving away from the camera, the sound does not diminish or fade.

Military officials also have not addressed the speculation that the puppy may have already been dead when the video was shot, as the puppy didn't appear to be moving when held up. But Mersereau noted that puppies sometimes go limp when being picked up by the nape, he said.

Whether the clip is authentic or a prank, it has drawn sharp condemnation and widespread outrage.

Animal rights groups said they have been flooded with e-mails and calls about the disturbing video, which was viewed tens of thousands of times before it was taken down by YouTube.com on Tuesday "due to terms of use violation."

"I cannot fathom the kind of stress our men and women are going through overseas but regardless of that, these kinds of activities and these kids are just unacceptable," said Kawehi Yim with the Hawaiian Humane Society.

"We're appalled," said Mersereau. "Thankfully, it appears the Marines are taking this very seriously, as we expected that they would."

The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals International said it was horrified by the video and hopes the Marine Corps takes "swift and strong action."

Stephanie Scroggs, spokesman for the Washington-based group, said the video was the opposite of what she has experienced with U.S. troops. In November, SPCA launched Operation Baghdad Pups, which helps service members rescue and bring home animals from Iraq and Afghanistan.

"(They're) desperate to bring them out of that situation and show incredible acts of kindness," she said.

At a cost of $10,000, the group last week helped bring to the U.S. two dogs including a puppy that was found tangled in razor wire during a gunfight in Baghdad. The dog named "K-Pot" was adopted by the family of an Army medic who treated its wounds.

"I think there's two stories: there's this video and then there's multiple stories that we have about how compassionate our service members are," Scroggs said.

Mersereau said among the "truckloads" of calls and e-mails PETA has fielded, some were from Marines outraged by the video.