(NEW YORK) — Here’s a story that will give you paws. Or at least it has paws.
According to TMZ, Justin Bieber gave an unsuspecting fan an early Christmas present by unloading his pet hamster, named PAC, on her during a recent concert.
“That’s all you,” Bieber can be heard shouting to the girl over the screams of the crowd as the incident was captured on grainy video. “You gotta take care of PAC.”
The girl, identified as Victoria Blair, age 18, screamed back, “I will take care of him!”
The California Hamster Association is not amused. They simply cannot believe the pop star acted so irresponsibly.
First of all, yes. There really is a California Hamster Association (CHA). And second, as David Imber, an adviser and spokesman for the organization pointed out – what Bieber did was not cool.
“No doubt Justin Bieber meant well in delighting his adoring fan with the gift of his hamster, but without realizing it he was practicing a form of animal cruelty,” Imber said.
“We have subsequently read that the recipient is attempting to be responsible about caring for the animal, but absent any other indication, in general it is extremely likely that this hamster would have been harmed,” Imber continued. “No pet, large or small, should ever be ‘gifted’ to an unknowing recipient.”
Beiber could not immediately be reached for comment by ABC News but Blair told ABC News that PAC is doing fine.
If you are considering giving the gift of a hamster this year, the CHA urges using some common sense.
This means never surprising someone with any sort of creature, let alone something as sensitive and fragile as a cute and furry little hamster. Without discussing it with them first, you don’t know if someone has the means or desire to provide proper care for the animal (as with any animal), including suitable housing, plenty of food and water, and one of those squeaky exercise wheels. And definitely, under no circumstances should you hand over a pet to the recipient at a concert.
Imber worried that most people don’t realize hamsters actually don’t make great pets for little kids even though they are inexpensive and reproduce in great numbers.
“They do not typically sit calmly in one’s lap, but roam incessantly — the reason we give them wheels — and they have a very short life span of fewer than 1,000 days,” he said.
If you do decide to go forward with a pet present, remind the new owner that they can leave it in the care of a shelter or animal rescue center should they no longer wish to keep it — again, keeping in mind that any handoff should not occur in the midst of a screaming mob of adolescent girls.
But anyway, three holiday cheers for PAC’s new situation. Our little ham-star doesn’t appear doomed to die a horrible death as the CHA initially feared. In fact, he seems to be thriving like the tiny rodent royalty he is, even tossing out the occasional tweet to his nearly 46,000 followers.
“Yes, it’s true. @victoriablair21 is ‘my’ new owner, she takes care of me so don’t worry,” said one of his tweets that posted a few days after he was handed over to Blair.
It was hashtagged, #happyhamster.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Brian Stelter, CNN
Chandrika Narayan, CNN
Brett Crandall, BYU-Idaho Media Relations
Lisa Respers France and Brian Stelter, CNN