FORT LAUDERDALE (CBS4) – Officials say it was a human cruelty that left a Peninsula Cooter Turtle seriously injured and in need of medical attention Friday.

The front of the bottom of its shell was broken into pieces.

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“You see the cracks?” asked South Florida Wildlife Center Vet Dr. Antonia Gardner as she gingerly turned it over. “Basically, almost cracked off the whole front of the shell.”

It happened when a guy in his late teens or early 20’s hurled the animal against a wall.

“This innocent animal was apparently grabbed or captured by this young man, wrapped hastily in a towel  and slammed violently into a wall intentionally,” said South Florida Wildlife Center Director Sherry Schlueter.

Vets at the center had to use a piece of metal, along with screws and wires to try to keep the shell in place so it can heal.  They’re amazed at the severity of the break, considering these shells are very durable.

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“We drilled through this, obviously, to put screws there and we broke a drill bit on it, it was very hard,” said Dr. Gardner.

Doctors have been keeping a close eye on the animal.  With a hit that hard, there could be hidden internal injuries, but at this point there are no signs of that.

“This was a criminal, premeditated act of violence against an innocent animal,” said Schlueter.

Schlueter was a BSO detective for more than 30 years.  What infuriates her is that this was not an accident, it was intentional.  It makes her wonder about the person who could do this and what he could do in the future.

“This kind of intentional cruelty, especially by  young person demonstrates a lack of compassion, a lack of empathy, is a big red warning sign, danger, danger, danger,” she said.

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Vets should know in a month or two if the turtle will heal well enough to be released back into the wild.

Ted Scouten