Suspend MTSU football players who abuse puppy on social media

This petition made change with 2,598 supporters!

MURFREESBORO, TN (WSMV) - Two MTSU football players are under investigation for animal cruelty.

A Snapchat video is at the center of it all. Officials said the video was posted on Justin Akins’ social media account last month.

A concerned citizen was able to record the video from her iPad because Snapchat posts disappear after a certain amount of time.

In the video, police said Shalom Alvarez, who is a linebacker for MTSU's football team, is seen hitting the dog. Police said he grabbed the dog from under the bed and forcefully hit the puppy at least five times. The puppy can be hearing crying in pain with each hit.

Police said Akins, a redshirt senior football player, posted the video with the comment "[Expletive] said you don't pay rent."

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.

MTSU head coach Rick Stockstill issued the following statement to Channel 4 concerning the alleged abuse:

I am aware of the situation and have talked to the players involved. 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 investigation into whether this was animal cruelty is still ongoing.

In the meantime, both athletes remain on MTSU's football roster.

The puppy did not belong to either football player. There have been no arrests or charges in this case.

Reported by Heather Hourigan. Copyright 2017 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) needs to suspend these football players ASAP. Snapchatting hitting a puppy five times with the comment "[Expletive] said you don't pay rent" is cruelty. Bottom Line.

Please take the time to share and take a few minutes to call MTSU (615)898-2450 and ask for Athletic Director, Chris Massaro. They need to take immediate action.

UPDATE: 4/12 - Called at 9:25AM and was transferred to News/Media Relations and was hung up on.

4/12 - Called back at 9:34AM and explained what happened with the helpful main operator who transferred me to Randy with their News/Media team but he didn't have any updates to the story that WSMV-TV Channel 4, Nashville broke last night. He was helpful and gave me direct numbers to Mark Owens, Associate Athletic Director (615) 898-2968, Chris Massaro, Athletic Director (615)898-2450 and their University Legal Council Heidi Zimmerman (615)898-2025. Randy did confirm that he only found out about the issue this morning when an internet media alert notified him of he story breaking.

4/12 - 9:55AM - Athletic Director, Chris Massaro, is in meeting per his secretary. Left my contact info along with the purpose of my call which is "What further action is planned for these two players who participated in animal cruelty on camera?"

4/12 - 10:10AM - Left message with secretary of MTSU legal counsel, Heidi Zimmerman, let her know that I was representing the Tiny But Mighty Fund and wanted to get an update on what pending action will be taken against the two student athletes who participated in animal cruelty as nothing has been done as of yet.

4/12 - 10:41AM - Athletic Director, Chris Massaro, called me back and we had a lengthy conversation about the incident, the responsibility of the university, the current status of the investigation and the puppy (a teammate's puppy) and his views on how to appropriately handle the situation. He is emailing me over a statement of our conversation as I want to give him an opportunity to directly address before I relay the conversation that we had to the masses.

4/12 - 11:03AM - Emailed the WSMV reporter who broke the story (Heather Hourigan WSMV) with updates on actions that have taken place and that we are awaiting a new written email statement from Athletic Director, Chris Massaro.

12:44PM - No updated confirmed statement has been received from the MTSU Athletic Director as of yet. Created a petition.

1:13PM - Voicemail received from MTSU Athletic Director, Chris Massaro: Both players have now been suspended from the team and assigned community service with an animal welfare organization.

1:43PM: Breaking News announcement forwarded to me that WSMV is updating their story of the actions that are being taken. Update here with Massaro's formal statement:

4/14 - 1:15PM: Rumors on social media are claiming that the animal cruelty investigation has been dismissed. I left a voicemail at 1:15pm with reporting officer Kristy Inglish at the Murfreesboro PD to verify any updates on this case. In the interim, please continue to sign the petition as we may need it now more than ever.

4/14 - 1:30PM: Confirmed that rumors were false but verified MAJOR UPDATE: Thank you to MTSU for taking this step to ensure that we don't condone animal cruelty.

“After reviewing the matter further, and speaking with authorities with the appropriate expertise, I have decided to dismiss Justin Akins and Shalom Alvarez from our football team. Their actions were in violation of the values and standards of our program." - Rick Stockstill, Head Coach

4:55PM - Murfreesboro Police Department spokesperson, Kyle Evans, has confirmed that the animal cruelty investigation case is still open and that Rocko the puppy is in safe custody.

4/17 - 7:23PM: Kyle Evans of the Murfreesboro Police Department has confirmed: MPD Detective Kristy Inglish obtained a warrant for Cruelty to Animals against Shalom A. Alvarez.

For a timeline of events or to still show support by signing, heading to the link below. So thankful for the over 2,000 of you who have taken action.




Murfreesboro Police Department has confirmed: MPD Detective Kristy Inglish obtained a warrant for Cruelty to Animals against Shalom A. Alvarez.

For a timeline of events or to still show support by signing, heading to the link below. So thankful for the over 2,000 of you who have taken action.


Thank you!

Marcia A. Masulla, Founder, Tiny But Mighty Fund 

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