A Middletown man facing charges that he sexually abused a guinea pig in a pet store parking lot last month has denied any wrongdoing and said he was only trying to help the animal.
Scott Thomas Mackey, 33, was charged via criminal summons last week with two felony counts of aggravated animal cruelty, as well as one count each of animal cruelty and taking part in a perverted sexual practice with an animal. All four charges date back to an investigation opened Dec. 2 when animal control officers and Frederick County sheriff’s deputies were sent to the Riverview Plaza parking lot in the 5400 block of Urbana Pike at 2 p.m.
Mackey was sitting in his green Volkswagen Jetta with white animal hair on his shirt and pants when officers arrived and quickly took custody of a juvenile male guinea pig that Mackey had just adopted from the nearby PetSmart, according to court documents.
Deputies and an animal control officer spoke with the witness who called 911 and provided several statements regarding what she saw between when she first called 911 up until the time the first deputies arrived.
In addition to bending and contorting the animal, the woman told officials she watched Mackey repeatedly strike the animal and force his finger into its rectum.
“The rapidness of the movements and the contortionist positions, bending, squeezing, touching and inserting [Mackey’s] finger in the reproductive area were horrible to witness,” the woman’s statement reads in part.
The witness also provided the Frederick County Division of Animal Control with cellphone video of the alleged abuse, the documents state.
Mackey, reached for comment Wednesday, adamantly denied any wrongdoing, saying he was only trying to help the animal. Describing himself as a conscientious pet owner, Mackey said he had carefully researched guinea pigs before deciding to get one as a pet. Mackey said he was looking the animal over when he noticed it was suffering from an impaction, a condition in which fecal matter becomes lodged in the animal’s colon.
“You’re supposed to do a general health check once a month, and you’re supposed to check their genital region because they can get an impaction,” Mackey said. “I had literally just gotten him minutes before and I was trying to make sure that he was comfortable when I noticed that he had this impaction that needed to be cleaned. You’re supposed to clean that area regularly, and I noticed that it hadn’t been done in a long time.”
Mackey also repeatedly denied any wrongdoing at the scene, telling an animal control officer that he had been trying to comfort the animal, which he said appeared to be stressed. Mackey also said that he was trying to feed the animal a carrot when deputies arrived, the documents state.
In retrospect, Mackey said he should have waited until he was at home to address the matter, but he reiterated that he was only trying to help when the witness called police.
“I don’t know how it must have appeared to someone else, but really I was just trying to control the guinea pig and I was really just trying to help the animal,” Mackey said. “If I was going to do something devious or whatever, I wouldn’t do it in a crowded shopping center parking lot right before the busiest shopping holiday of the year.”
The guinea pig, identified in adoption paperwork as “Mr. Gravy,” was examined by an emergency veterinarian, who confirmed that the animal appeared to have suffered an injury to its rectum consistent with what the witness described, according to charging documents.
Combined with a consultation with the PetSmart employee who had handled the adoption as well as the statements and video from the witness, animal control officers, after a brief consultation with the Frederick County State’s Attorney’s Office, determined that enough evidence existed to pursue charges against Mackey, said Sgt. Dave Luckenbaugh, a county animal control supervisor.
Mackey continued to deny harming the animal when animal control officials and sheriff’s deputies visited his home in the 8100 block of Hollow Road on Dec. 17 to check on any other animals living with Mackey. All of the animals in the home, including several dogs and cats, appeared to be healthy and happy, the documents state.
“I honestly can’t even believe that I’m being charged with this sort of thing,” Mackey said, addressing the charges Wednesday. “It’s so insane. It’s surreal to me, because I’ve grown up with pets and animals my entire life and I would never hurt them.”
Mackey voluntarily relinquished ownership of the guinea pig before investigators left his home during the follow-up visit and the guinea pig, after a brief recovery period, was given to a rescue agency, Luckenbaugh said.
“For this specific situation, we thought it was appropriate for this guinea pig to go to a rescue agency that specializes in guinea pigs that will hold him until they can find an appropriate lifelong home,” Luckenbaugh said. “With animals like guinea pigs, sometimes they have a very high anxiety level and don’t do very well in the shelter environment.”
Mackey’s summons had yet to be served as of Wednesday, but a trial in his case is scheduled to take place Feb. 26, according to online court records.