City to Paws Influence

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Cat code

Lawsuits against pets may not only produce an interesting storyline in local news, but may also result in a high payday for the owner. A recent issue, concerning a house cat roaming freely in a Washington neighborhood, has reached national headlines. Miska, owned by Anna Danieli, has been the subject of a three-year legal battle. Due to allegations that Miska provoked other pets in the neighborhood and trespassed on surrounding properties, Danieli has been required to pay fines in excess of $30,000. The toxicity of the situation escalated to the point of animal control temporarily throwing the cat in feline jail.

In response to the claims against the cat, Danieli filed and won a $125,000 lawsuit against King County, the City of Bellevue, and additional government agencies. Calling the allegations unjustified, counsel for the plaintiff addressed the concern that a particular neighbor, who was employed as the manager of the Regional Animal Services of King County (RASKC), submitted many of the complaints against the pet. The supposed governmental overreach served as the main reason for why Danieli believed her code violations should be considered void. Over the years, Miska’s owner was slapped with over 30 violations against the City of Bellevue’s domestic cat code.

The code functions as an additional argument in the lawsuit. While Danieli won $125,000, she has also succeeded in the push to have the city’s code evaluated and changed to better protect the civil rights of owners in cases involving their pets. In this case, a neighbor who was employed in a position of governmental power further influenced the aggressive and attentive prosecution of the cat. Traditionally, roaming laws are considered at the county level, and not at the federal level. This case affirms the need to follow laws as written, and limit the personal interest of government officials in dictating or influencing local issues.