Utah rat eater's animal cruelty charges dismissed
Courts • Tooele man says baby animal was "destined to be eaten by a snake anyway."
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A judge has dismissed the animal cruelty case against a Tooele man who ate a baby rat on a dare that made its way online.

Andy Ray Harris, 31, was charged in 3rd District Court in May after video of him eating the animal was posted on YouTube.

Last week, however, Judge Robert Adkins dismissed the class A misdemeanor charge against Harris.

Harris told police he ate the rat "on a dare from his friends."

In the 45-second Internet video, the hairless rat squirms on a piece of a paper for a moment before Harris picks it up and puts it in his mouth, as others cheer him on.

The defendant admitted the act was "unusual and grotesque," according to court documents, but not illegal.

According to documents filed with the court, Harris argued that "for centuries rats have been a scourge to humanity and should have no legal protections," and that "since this rat was destined to be eaten by a snake anyway, it made no difference" that he ate it.

He also pointed to other efforts to capture and kill rats that result in more painful deaths than being eaten, but have not resulted in prosecution.

Prosecutors argued that the rat was a domesticated animal, or, at least, that Harris did not follow proper husbandry practices.

"A person eating a live, baby rat on a dare is not an accepted husbandry practice," prosecutors wrote.

Calls seeking comment from attorneys in the case were not immediately returned Monday.

afalk@sltrib.com

Twitter: @aaronfalk