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Last Updated: Thursday, 7 September 2006, 14:12 GMT 15:12 UK
Charity will trace 'mouse biter'
The incident was posted on the YouTube website
An animal welfare group has said it is hopeful of tracing a man who can be seen on a website biting the head off a live pet mouse.

About 2,000 people have viewed the incident on the YouTube site.

The incident is believed to have happened at a party in the Turf Lodge area of west Belfast.

"We've had a couple of leads which my staff will be running down today," an Ulster Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals spokesman said.

Spokesman Stephen Philpott said: "If the USPCA in this instance can prove unnecessary suffering, which is the key phrase under the Welfare of Animal Act, we will certainly be taking it further."

Mr Philpott said the organisation had already had a "great response" from the public after appealing for help to identify the man.

The two-minute video shows the man, referred to as Johnny, drinking from a can of beer before biting the head off the mouse and chewing it, egged on by other party-goers.

He then spits it out saying it is impossible to swallow. The man is heavily built, in his 20s, with short hair.

Mr Philpott said he was worried by the trend of people being recording carrying out acts of cruelty against animals.

"We have become alarmed in the last year at how many of these incidents we have been asked to have a look at," he said.

"Unfortunately, this is like a type of happy slapping against animals where people record themselves doing depraved things and then show that footage to the rest of their colleagues."

Mr Philpott said the acts being carried out were designed to be as shocking and "grotesque" as possible.

"Singling out a defenceless animal like this just simply to glorify yourself or publicise yourself just can't be done," he said.

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