A Fresno man facing a felony animal cruelty charge after police found a near-dead cat tied up in his backpack said Wednesday he is not guilty of the charge.
Cody High, 24, also said he is not guilty of misdemeanor charges of giving false information to a police officer and possession of a drug-injecting device.
Afterward, his aunt, Jena High, told reporters that her nephew loves animals and thought the cat was dead, so he was going to do the humane thing and bury the animal.
Jena High also said her nephew abuses heroin.
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If convicted of the animal cruelty charge, Cody High faces three years behind bars.
He is being held in the Fresno County Jail without bail because he violated terms of his probation, jail records say.
He thought the cat was dead, so he put it in his backpack and planned on burying it.
Aunt Jena High
Clovis Sgt. Vince Weibert said High was stopped by police Sunday because he was acting suspiciously behind Walmart at Peach and Shaw avenues. Weibert said High gave officers false information about his identity, but when officers learned his true name and established he was on felony probation, his backpack was searched.
Inside, the officers found an adult male cat bound by electrical tape around its neck, face, nose and legs.
Initially, police thought the cat was dead, but when the tape was removed from its nose it began to breathe, the sergeant said. The animal was taken to an emergency veterinarian, who removed the rest of the tape and reported it would have died had officers not discovered it, Weibert said.
Outside court Wednesday, Jena High said her nephew was visiting his grandmother in Clovis when he came across the cat.
“He thought the cat was dead, so he put it in his backpack and planned on burying it,” she said.
Jena High said it was her nephew who told police that the cat was in his backpack. She also said he denied tying up the cat.
Court records say Cody High has a long criminal history of felony drug possession, vandalism and driving under the influence, but no record of animal abuse.
His aunt said he lives with his mother, who has four dogs. She said Cody High’s troubles began in high school when he began abusing drugs. “He’s been in and out of jail most of his adult life because of drugs,” she said. “It’s been a revolving door for him.”