A judge acquitted a Chicago man in May on animal cruelty charges that arose from a video showing him blowing marijuana smoke into the mouth of his pet chameleon.
Bruce Blunt (real name) said after the verdict that he merely wanted to help his pet feel better. The weed, Blunt said, made the chameleon, Binna, more relaxed and less aggressive than she typically was. He said he never hurt the creature.
“I blew a little smoke on her and it didn’t harm her,” Blunt said outside the Cook County courthouse following the ruling. “It calms her down because I see a difference in her mood. I love animals.”
Earlier this year, Blunt posted a YouTube video showing him with Binna. In the video, he blows two hits of weed smoke into her open mouth. She closes her mouth and appears to inhale the smoke, then opens her mouth again.
The video went viral
The posting quickly attracted hundreds of thousands of views. After it went viral, someone at People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) filed a complaint with Chicago authorites.
Police conducted a stakeout to find Wallace, then arrested him outside his mother’s home. He was charged with misdemeanor animal cruelty.
“It’s just a little guy,” Assistant State’s Attorney Mike Bagnowski, the prosecutor in the case, told Cook County Judge Robert Kuzas. “He blew smoke not once but twice into its mouth.”
But Kuzas disagreed that there was any injury to the animal. Kuzas watched the video in chambers during the trial, then acquitted Blunt of the charge. The judge said Blunt’s actions were “really, really uncalled for and immature” but not serious enough to merit a criminal conviction.
Chameleon showed no signs of distress
Binna, the judge noted, didn’t seem any worse for the wear after the pot smoking. She showed no signs of physical distress in the video, Kuzas said.
“The chameleon didn’t change its demeanor, it didn’t change its color,” he said. “There’s a finding of not guilty.”
After his acquittal, Blunt said he plans to try to get Binna back from animal control officials, who took her at the time of his arrest. The pet is a favorite of his girlfriend and 10-year-old daughter, he said, and they want her returned. Binna and her terrarium share a room with a 75-gallon saltwater acquarium, a guinea pig, and two geckos.
Blunt didn’t say whether he plans to continue giving the chameleon weed to counter her aggression. But it’s a safe bet he won’t post the video if he does.