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Man swung rabbit by the ears, set it on fire, police say

A Santa Paula man was arrested Saturday for allegedly swinging a rabbit by the ears and setting the animal on fire.

Police were called to the 200 block of March Street after witnesses reported the incident. By the time officers arrived, the suspect had fled on a bicycle, police said.

Authorities later arrested Juan Lemus, 29. According to a police statement, Lemus claimed the rabbit was dead when he picked it up and that he set a paper on fire, not the bunny.

Police found the rabbit's body and had it examined.

"The veterinary technicians examined and X-rayed the rabbit. It was determined the cause of death was blunt force trauma to the head," according to the statement.

Lemus was arrested on suspicion of animal cruelty, arson and burglary.

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