Leighton Allen Labute faces charges of animal abuse and allegedly has a string of social media accounts depicting disturbing content. (Contributed)

Kelowna man’s alleged hamster torture prompts animal rights group response

PETA is calling for PetSmart to stop selling live animals after a Kelowna man allegedly tortured three hamsters he bought there

WARNING: This story contains graphic content

An American animal rights organization is urging a large chain of pet stores to discontinue its sales of live animals following the arrest of a Kelowna man accused of torturing and killing three hamsters.

Leighton Allen Labute, 20, was charged on May 25 with three counts of killing or injuring an animal and three counts of causing unnecessary pain or suffering to an animal, stemming from an alleged May 2019 incident.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) claims Labute purchased the hamsters at a PetSmart store.

A video posted to a YouTube account believed to belong to Labute around the time of the alleged incident, a PetSmart box and three hamsters are prominently displayed. The title is “1 Kid 3 Hamsters.”

The description of the video simply reads “pin stabbed, drowned, microwaved,” though no such content is shown.

“This man posted videos of himself tormenting and killing gentle hamsters he says he purchased at PetSmart, which will sell animals to anyone who can pay,” said PETA senior vice president Daphna Nachminovitch. “PETA is calling on PetSmart to help prevent acts of cruelty like this from happening again by ending its sale of animals.”

In a letter addressed to PetSmart CEO J.K. Symancyk, PETA asks the company to assess its practices and consider that the animals it sells are “completely vulnerable to the whims of anyone who has a few dollars to buy them.”

The Kelowna Capital News has reached out to PetSmart for comment.

The YouTube account featuring the hamsters consists largely of violent claymation videos of anthropomorphic sculptures and dolls depicting gore and rape.

An Instagram account with over 7,000 followers, which includes Labute’s first and last name in the bio, shows similar content. The first post appears to have been created on May 1, 2016.

A video of the alleged torture of animals is reported to have been posted on Reddit recently, leading to an RCMP investigation.

“The funny thing about Reddit, it forces people to watch the things you do and ruins their day,” a Twitter account also believed to belong to Labute posted on May 4.

The Kelowna RCMP said they were informed of the video on May 14 and linked it to Labute after further investigation.

Labute was released after a bail hearing on May 25. He is scheduled to appear in court on Aug. 25 to consult with his counsel.

READ MORE: Suspected social media accounts of accused Kelowna hamster torturer emerge

READ MORE: Kelowna man charged with animal cruelty

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email: michael.rodriguez@kelownacapnews.com


@michaelrdrguez
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A variety of art coming to Revelstoke gallery this fall

A members’ show in December will act as a gift market

Roots & Blues announces ticket giveaway ahead of online festival

The festival is streaming free online this year, but those who pre-register can win passes for 2021.

Molotov cocktails thrown at Revelstoke home in arson attempt

The flames were extinguished before they spread

Stay Revy launches despite pandemic

The new vacation rental management company works with legal vacation rentals

Revelstokian raises money for mental health

A Revelstoke local recently raised $2,600 for mental health services at Community… Continue reading

371 British Columbians battling COVID-19, health officials confirm

Thursday (Aug. 6) saw a second straight day of nearly 50 new confirmed cases

Penticton man wakes to wildfire, forced to evacuate

A wildfire sparked off the side of Highway 97 near Penticton on Thursday

Anti-gang cops probe Kelowna’s street-level drug trade over B.C. Day long weekend

CFSEU’s Gang Enforcement Team was deployed to Kelowna last weekend

Man allegedly wielding knife at Kelowna Superstore arrested

The 29-year-old Kelowna man has been released on strict conditions for a future court date

Visitors and non-residents entering closed remote B.C. First Nation’s territories

With limited resources, they say they don’t have any authority or power to enforce the closures

UBC loses appeal on Fisheries Act convictions

BC Supreme Court upholds order to pay $1.55-million fine

Masks to be mandatory on BC Transit, TransLink starting Aug. 24

Both BC Transit and TransLink made the announcement in separate press releases on Thursday

Acclaimed B.C. actor Brent Carver passes away

Carver, one of Canada’s greatest actors with a career spanning 40 years, passed away at home in Cranbrook

Most Read