A Fresno man who was caught with a near-dead cat in his backpack was sentenced Wednesday to one year in jail, with credit for time served, and three years of probation, after pleading no contest to a felony animal cruelty charge.
Cody High, 25, was stopped Jan. 17 by police in Clovis behind Wal-Mart at Peach and Shaw avenues because he was acting suspiciously. When officers discovered he was on felony probation, they searched his backpack, finding needles and an orange tabby cat tied up with electrical tape.
“It appeared to the officers that the animal was dead and when they took the tape off, he actually began to gasp for some air, so they got it veterinary assistance right away,” Deputy District Attorney Lynette Gonzales said. The cat’s front and back legs were bound, and tape was covering its mouth.
High was sentenced by Superior Court Judge Don Penner to 365 days in jail, with time credits for 260 days and three years felony probation. He was ordered not to own, possess or care for an animal for the duration of his probation, as well as pay reimbursement for the veterinary care costs, which totaled $1,272.96.
High’s target release date from Fresno County Jail is July 17.
The cat, named Zucchini, was kept at the Clovis animal shelter and has since been adopted out, Gonzales said.
While High has a history of drug abuse and a prior DUI, Gonzales said it wasn’t clear if he was under the influence when he was found with the tied-up cat.
His attorney, Stephen Quade, asked the judge that High be allowed to participate in Teen Challenge, a 12-month residential program for drug abuse.
“I think this is really something he needs to go through,” Quade said. “It’s my understanding, thankfully, that the animal is doing quite well at the new home.”
Other conditions of High’s probation included avoiding alcohol and narcotics, as well as submitting to alcohol and drug testing.
“Unfortunately, the law in California, at least,” is that High’s offense would be served in local jail due to AB 109, Gonzales said, referring to a law that moved certain criminals from state prisons to county jails. “If it were different, he would go to state prison and he would have that hanging over his head.
“Hopefully, the community, the judges, the court and the police officers will take these offenses seriously because they are serious,” Gonzales said. “They’re violent – they cause harm to animals, but they can easily transition over to causing harm to people.”