A Texas police officer has enraged hundreds of YouTube viewers after a video of him using pepper spray on a baby squirrel was posted.
In the video, Kimbrough Middle School students can be heard yelling at the officer, pleading with him not to spray the tiny animal after it began chasing students last Wednesday afternoon.
The officer pays no attention to the screams of the students and sprays the animal, which begins thrashing about on the ground.
Mesquite Police Department later defended the officer’s actions, saying he was trying to protect the students, Fox News reports.
Sergeant Wes Talley said the officer was standing between the squirrel and the students because he thought it may have been rabid.
Talley said the officer was unable to scare the squirrel away and resorted to pepper spray to protect the students.
The squirrel was reportedly cared for by animal control officers after the incident and was later released into the wild.
The video, which was posted on YouTube last Wednesday, has been watched 260,000 times.
It has been unpopular with viewers and has been “disliked” more than a thousand times.
“Cops are WAY too quick to use weapons,” one viewer posted.
“If it was rabid or something why did they release it back into the wild? Oh yeahh, [sic] because it probably wasn’t,” wrote another.
The officer has been getting some support, with a number of users agreeing he did the right thing and was protecting the students.