Saturday, 6 February 2016

The cat man

Last Thursday Dan Smith, a 65-year-old retiree using a cane and carrying a plastic bag containing his meds turned himself in to Gatineau police to begin serving an 11-day sentence for refusing to pay a fine for having an unlicensed cat.

It turns out our hero was separated from his wife and living in Ottawa, but he frequently visits her in her home across the river in Gatineau. That’s where he got nabbed.

One day Dan answers the door and there’s a bylaw officer there who claims he has an unlicensed cat. “I don’t have a cat” he says, “There’s a stray that comes by periodically and we sometimes feed it. But it’s not our cat.”

“Too bad” says the officer. “You feed it, it’s your cat.” And Dan’s given 10 days to purchase a $30 tag for the cat. “Not my cat” he says and ignores the warning.

Ten days later the bylaw officer is back, with 2 police officers in tow, and issues a $100 ticket for not licencing the stray cat.

Dan says, “Not my cat; I’m not paying.” and goes to court to fight the ticket.

At court he presents ID that shows he lives at a different address. His ex-wife confirms that Dan doesn’t actually live at the house where the ticket was issued, and that it’s a feral cat that she occasionally feeds. Doesn’t matter, says the judge, and hands him a bill for $326 that covers the original fine plus court costs. Or jail time.

At this point our hero really digs in his heels and refuses to pay, so jail it is. His ex-wife doesn’t seem to mind the jail option. “Maybe I’ll have a rest for a few days” she says.

And that’s how Mr. Smith ended up surrendering to police last Thursday, which was when he got the first bit of good news - he was only going to have to serve 3 days instead of 11. He spent Thursday night in an overcrowded cell (3 inmates, 2 beds) where he was treated like “a rock star”, and then Friday got the second bit of good news – due to overcrowding at the jail he was being kicked out to make room for other scofflaws who were arriving to serve weekend sentences.

Apparently his ex-wife has since licensed the feral cat.

And that’s your tax dollars at work. Pathetic.



  1. Quite the fitting word: pathetic

  2. sad really to think that there are people out there like that! Just when you think you have heard it all!?

  3. That is just so wrong on so many levels. At least he was released very early, so someone at the jail had the good sense to see what was up.

    1. Finally, but at what cost? Personally I'd like to see the bylaw officer named and shamed.

  4. Other than an income generator, this sentence does nothing to solve a problem, only pass it on. Unbelievable!

    1. Just seems to be one of those situations that common sense should have stopped about 5 times before he ever got to jail. Not even sure much revenue was generated when the costs are factored in.


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