Fall River aquarium vandal may face animal cruelty charges

The owner of a pet shop in Fall River called Animal Instincts is furious.

"The malicious destruction of aquariums, and the killing of the life in them, is something that's extremely tough to swallow," distraught businessman and devoted animal lover Bob Schenck said.

Schenck is still devastated over a crime that took place on February 20th.

That's when a man broke into the pet and aquatics specialty shop and started smashing tropical fish tanks with a metal pipe, destroying several displays, including a massive tank that Schenck had worked well over two decades to maintain, build and cultivate.

The tank even included hundreds of pounds of imported, natural coral that died from being out of the water for too long.

"We had containers and containers of dead fish all over the place, and you could see the coral wilted. You could tell the smell of death throughout the fish room," Schenck said.

In the initial days that followed the vicious attack on the fish, the disgusted owner thought the suspect, who's still at large, would likely only get a 'slap on the wrist' if he were to ever be caught, but now thanks to some legal help from an animal rights group in Boston, if they ever do catch the man, it's possible he could be charged with animal cruelty.

"They have really stepped up to the plate. The Boston Animal Rescue League has even offered a $1,000 reward for information. But the best thing is, and what I'm the most ecstatic about, is that they're going to prosecute this guy on the laws on the books for injuring or killing any living animal that can feel pain, a.k.a. for animal cruelty...Beautiful! I love it. And that's what he's gonna get, and it's well deserved."

Schenck said, "I can't wait until the day that this guy gets turned in."

In fact, the Animal Instincts owner has been so upset by the entire ordeal, and the loss of his beloved creatures, creatures he loves 'like cousins, or other relatives,' that he's only been back to the shop a few times since the killings.

That means Schenck hasn't been able to work.

"Walking by that brand new, empty tank was too much. It's just unfathomable to lose an entire system of legitimately, there were hundreds of organisms in that tank.A lot of that stuff had cohabitated for upwards of twenty years some of the stuff had been together, and it's all dead, the entire thing wiped out," he said, shaking is head.

But, now he's got some legal backing from the Animal Rescue League in Boston, Schenck may soon get the justice he so desperately wants.

"I really have hope that the Fall River Police can find him. They should be releasing a better picture of him soon."

And Animal Instincts customers agree if someone is ever caught, they should be held accountable.

Shawn Corriveau of Tiverton said, "I think he should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. There was no reason for it. He was just killing everything in the tank, for no reason! I would be less angry if he came in and stole everything, but to just kill the fish just to kill them, that's just wrong. You shouldn't treat anything, any living thing, like that."

A regular customer, and youngster named Jacob Jones said, "It does make me sad, because if it was like a family member to me, it would make me sad, and if it was a family member to him (the burglar) too, it would probably make him sad too. I liked all the fish. They looked cool. I liked everything in there."

But, on the bright side, incredibly an 18-year-old tropical fish named 'Blue,' survived for more than five hours OUT OF WATER, after the attack.

"I sold him to a customer when he was the size of a quarter 17 years ago, then last year, he came back. He said, 'this fish is getting too big for my tank, would you take it back and take care of it for me?' I was glad to. And he's a survivor. In the surveillance video you can see the fish flopping over and over again in a tiny, small little puddle of water. It's incredible that it lived."

If you have any information about this case, you're asked to call Fall River Police at 508-676-8511.