Two Middle Tennessee football players have been suspended for an alleged incident of animal cruelty. In a video posted to social media earlier this month, one of the players is seen is repeatedly striking a puppy, which can be heard yelping in pain.
In a Murfreesboro (Tenn.) police report, authorities identified junior linebacker Shalom Alvarez as the player hitting the dog, while senior defensive end Justin Akins was said to have posted it to his Snapchat account. A “concerned citizen” recorded the video and sent it to Rutherford County Pet Adoption and Welfare Services, which passed it along to the police.
— WSMV-TV, Nashville (@WSMV) April 12, 2017
Akins allegedly appended this caption to the video: “[Expletive] said you don’t pay rent.” From an account by WSMV:
Rutherford County Animal Control investigators said when they were trying to track Akins down for an interview at the College Grove apartments, they found he was evicted last May and not allowed there or at Aspen Heights for a shooting incident involving police.
Channel 4 also found Akins was arrested in January for resisting arrest and possession of marijuana.
“I am aware of the situation and have talked to the players involved,” MTSU Coach Rick Stockstill said in a statement (via WSMV). “The players explained to me that the puppy urinated inside and they were simply spanking it as a form of discipline.
“They told me there was never any intent to harm the dog. This was an important teaching moment. I talked to them about other approaches that should have been considered in this situation. And I pointed out how disciplining a pet in such a manner could be misconstrued, especially with the impact of social media.”
“The actions captured on this video are obviously disturbing,” MTSU Athletic Director Chris Massaro said in a statement (via the Daily News Journal). “We welcome the inquiry by the Rutherford County Pet Adoption and Welfare Services.
“We have high expectations of conduct of our student-athletes. Coach Stockstill has suspended these players until the inquiry is complete and they will perform community service to the benefit of local animal welfare efforts.”
In the report, the puppy, named “Rocko,” was identified as belonging to another MTSU player, junior cornerback Daryl Randolph. Authorities said that the investigation is ongoing.