A 63-year-old Palmer Township man set fire to three pet ferrets in a cage, according to township police who charged him Friday with cruelty to animals, arson and other counts.
“I did it … arrest me,” William Dickerson told police who responded to the scene at his home at 920 Tatamy Road, according to an arrest affidavit. “I lit those … things on fire. I’m not going to deny anything or give you guys a hard time, so just arrest me if that’s what you gotta do.”
All three ferrets suffered third-degree burns, were taken to Harmony Animal Hospital and have a 50 percent chance of survival, the pets’ owner told police. It was not clear from the affidavit what relationship the owner has to Dickerson.
The incident took place Aug. 5 at a little before 7 p.m., the affidavit says. Dickerson’s wife called 911 and reported that the ferrets were on fire and her husband went back into the house.
The wife later told police that Dickerson lit the animals on fire inside their cage and then went up to their bedroom.
The arresting officer, Patrolman Tyson Unangst, wrote in the affidavit that he observed a 2½-foot-tall wire cage and a partially melted water bottle for caged animals. A small fire was still burning in the cage.
A five-gallon gas can was on its side, five feet from the cage and less than 50 feet from the house, Unangst wrote.
One of the ferrets was stumbling around outside the cage, while the other two were hiding under some wooden stairs, Ungangst wrote. All three appeared to have severe burns and disfigurement, police said.
Dickerson was charged with three counts of cruelty to animals, two counts of arson and one count each of terroristic threats and criminal mischief. He was arraigned before District Judge Joseph Barner of Lower Nazareth Township and released on $10,000 bail.