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Opossum wasn't bludgeoned, Anaheim woman says

March 13, 2008|From the Associated Press

The alleged bludgeoning of an opossum that triggered an animal cruelty investigation did not happen, according to a neighbor of the Anaheim father and son under investigation.

Sonia Gallardo said Wednesday that she was there Monday evening when Lorenzo Oliver's 12-year-old son pushed onto a sidewalk an overturned bin holding an opossum that the Oliver family dogs had cornered in the backyard.

A witness had told police he saw the boy beat the opossum with a shovel when it jumped up after the bin was lifted.

The mother opossum was euthanized because of severe injuries, and her surviving young are being cared for.

Oliver, 54, was arrested for investigation of being an accessory to animal cruelty and was released on bail. His son was taken to a police station and then released to his mother pending further review, police said.

A call left for Oliver on Wednesday was not immediately returned.

But Gallardo said Oliver was far away from the opossum when it was released. She said his son used the shovel only to lift the bin so the animal could run away.

"Nobody ever hit the possum with a shovel. I was standing there the whole time," she said.

When the bin was lifted, the animal at first appeared dead but then jumped up and bit and killed one of its babies, Gallardo said. She said two others fell off the mother, and it fled with others clinging to its fur.

The opossum did not appear to be hurt but may have been injured by the dogs, Gallardo speculated.

Since the incident was publicized, the Oliver family has received death threats, Gallardo said.

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