An objectively cute Instagram post has Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant under fire from the animal rights group PETA, the latest off-the-field issue in what has been an undeniably screwed up Cowboys season.
On Monday, PETA sent a letter to animal control in DeSoto, Texas, requesting the seizure of what it believes is Bryant pet's monkey. The letter, from PETA Foundation Deputy Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Brittany Peet, reads in part:
“Monkeys belong in the wild—not in the hands of football players who acquire exotic animals just to make a splash on Instagram. This baby capuchin was torn away from his mother shortly after birth and needs special care that can now only be provided by wildlife experts who will be able to ensure that he gets the love and attention he deserves.”
The letter comes in response to a picture posted on Bryant's Instagram account in October, in which he can be seen holding a baby capuchin, a small monkey native to the Americas. An estimated 15,000 primates are currently kept as pets in the United States, according to the Humane Society.
Whether or not Bryant actually owns "Dallas" the monkey in DeSoto remains unclear. The above Instagram post lacks a location identifier and its caption, "My new best friend ... Dallas Bryant world," is the only time he's commented on the animal.
DeSoto police officer Nick Bristow told The Huffington Post on Monday afternoon that the police force currently has no evidence that any monkey is living in DeSoto, but that they've been "working closely" with PETA on the matter. Since seeing Bryant's Instagram post last week, DeSoto police have contacted Bryant's personal attorney and the Cowboys for further information, according to Bristow. Despite PETA's calls, animal control won't be visiting Bryant's home soon.
"Just because there’s a picture posted on social media, that is nowhere near rising to probable clause to execute a search warrant," Bristow said.
PETA cited local statutes provided to them by DeSoto police in their Monday letter, pointing out that possession of monkeys is illegal in DeSoto unless the owner has a special permit, which are only approved for commercial or governmental entities like public zoos, schools, circuses or a retailer. Texas law doesn't ban private possession of exotic animals like a monkey.
If Dallas is indeed Bryant's and is living with him, PETA wants the monkey seized and placed in a local sanctuary. The organization says it's already made arrangements.
Bryant is an NFL wide receiver, not a zookeeper. Given the aggressive, sometimes bite-happy nature of a growing capuchin, it's probably best for Bryant to forfeit Dallas to experts who can provide the proper round-the-clock care needed for it.
UPDATE: (5:27 p.m.) DeSoto police have declared the case closed, according to The Dallas Morning News. There's no monkey in DeSoto, according to Bryant's lawyer:
The City Attorney was just contacted by Mr. Bryant’s personal attorney who advised the monkey is NOT in the City of DeSoto. We don’t expect to have any further updates on this matter.
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