A 72-year-old Myrtle Beach man is facing a misdemeanor mistreatment of animals charge after police say he intentionally drove his BMW coupe over a family of ducklings crossing the road. Robert Allen Willard was ticketed after eye witnesses told police they saw him hit several of the ducks with his car.
According to WSAV, those witnesses claimed that the incident took place on June 2 at an intersection at 48th Avenue North near Wild Iris Drive, where cars were instructed to stop to allow the family of ducks to cross. Willard, however, allegedly sped up his car, running over a female mallard and several of her ducklings. He drove off, but witnesses helped police locate his car.
Paula Rock, an employee at the Myrtle Wood Villas near the intersection, said that she ran outside right after the incident took place. "When I came out here, the majority of the babies were over by the dirt road," Rock said. "The mother and the baby were basically across from this tree on the other side of the road.”
Rock said that she and her co-workers were angered by the news, but decided to try to save the five surviving ducklings. "I went back, grabbed an empty box with some hand towels and ran outside," Rock said. Maintenance workers on the property buried the ducklings that had been killed, and a pet removal service company called The Snake Chaser transported the remaining ducklings to an animal rehabilitation center run by Elizabeth and Ken Alfieri.
“"These guys lost their mother immediately, so we're working on teaching them to swim. We're out here doing everything we can to save them and get them back to the wild and raise them, and it's just awful," Elizabeth Alfieri said.
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She add that she hoped that at the very least the crime would raise awareness about pay attention to wildlife. "If this can bring more awareness to more people that they need to take care of what's around them and their surroundings and the things they share with the world. That's huge," she said.
According to Stray Pet Advocacy, all first time offenders charged with animal mistreatment in South Carolina face either a prison sentence of up to 60 days, or a fine of between $100 and $500. Willard has not responded to requests for comments.