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Dick Peavey
December 16th 05, 03:54 PM
This is a case where I do not envy the judge. Whatever the outcome somebody
will be hurt.

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/15/nyregion/15cat.html

December 15, 2005
The Furry, 4-Legged Centerpiece of a Custody Battle in Court
By ANEMONA HARTOCOLLIS

When Chavisa Woods, then an aspiring poet and a college student, found
Oliver, he was a 6-month-old kitten and had just been thrown from a car.

Four years later, in September 2004, he walked out of his home, and became
the center of a custody battle that has wended its way through State Supreme
Court in Manhattan for months.

He has even prompted serious questions about a New York City law on the
books for more than 100 years.

Oliver, who Ms. Woods said is a Russian blue, was picked up by a
neighborhood animal lover, turned over to an animal rescue agency authorized
by the city and almost immediately adopted. But Ms. Woods wants him back.

Last week, Justice Marylin G. Diamond decided to hold a full trial in the
case to determine whether Oliver, who is now known as Gatsby, should be
returned to his earlier home or be allowed to stay with a woman identified,
as many adoptive parents are, only as Jane Doe.

Although the case might seem trivial in an austere stone courthouse where
weighty issues are decided every day, it could be important to the vast
system in New York that handles tens of thousands of stray and lost pets,
mostly dogs and cats, every year.

Ms. Woods is challenging a 111-year-old city law that terminates the rights
of pet owners 48 hours after an animal disappears. In a victory for Ms.
Woods, Justice Diamond has ruled that the 48-hour clock should not be
started until a lost pet has been listed in a city registry of lost animals.
Whether Oliver/Gatsby was ever listed in the registry is in dispute, and
remains to be determined during the trial, which could take place in
January.

The ruling has alarmed animal rights advocates, who fear that it will
overturn thousands of adoptions that have already taken place, and that it
may make animal rights groups vulnerable to lawsuits.

Michael Goldberg, Jane Doe's lawyer, protested yesterday that the judge was
going beyond the scope of the 1894 law by requiring pets to be registered in
a database.

Referring to rescue agencies, he said: "They will be scared out of their
minds. God forbid they don't register someone on the registry; if they put
the pet up for adoption maybe they're liable. And even worse, if it's
euthanized maybe they're liable."

If Ms. Woods wins her case, he said, people might hesitate to adopt animals
for fear of having to return them if the original owners surface.

The 1894 law, called the New York City Dog License Law, says that a pet
owner's right to reclaim a lost pet is terminated if the animal is not
claimed within 48 hours of being seized by an authorized city agency.

"It was very simple," Mr. Goldberg said. "If you lost your pet and Animal
Care and Control got them, the owner's rights were terminated unless the
owner made a claim within 48 hours. It didn't spell out how you could make a
claim."

But Donald N. David, a lawyer for Ms. Woods, said the judge's ruling
recognized that his client had a right to be notified before her pet was
taken. "The statute remains exactly the same," he said. "They now have some
definitive point when the clock starts to tick. It sounds horrible, but our
society treats animals as if they are chattel, so there is a due process
requirement for taking the animal."

Ms. Woods is not impressed by the legal issues. "The fact that it's become a
seminal case kind of infuriates me," she said yesterday, "because it's
taking so much longer and all I want is my cat back."

Ms. Woods, 23, said she thought about Oliver every day. "He was like my
shadow cat, constantly around me," she said. "I see other people's cats, it
hurts." She is now living upstate, in Hudson, struggling to make it as a
poet while working in a wine store.

Oliver/Gatsby's new owner declined, through her lawyer, to be interviewed.
All that is known about Jane Doe is that she is a lawyer, according to Ms.
Woods's lawyer, and that she adopted Oliver/Gatsby through Kitty Kind, a
nonprofit animal shelter that operates in the Petco store in Union Square.

But her lawyer said that Jane Doe was a cat lover, and that Oliver/Gatsby
has never been happier. "She provides for the cat," he said. "The cat is
thrilled with her."

Through an exchange of photographs ordered by the court last spring, Ms. Doe
and Ms. Woods confirmed that Oliver and Gatsby are indeed the same cat. But
Ms. Doe has said in court papers that she bonded with the cat and did not
want to part with him. Besides, her lawyer said, she believes that
Oliver/Gatsby was not well cared for by Ms. Woods, and that the cat's escape
was proof of that.

Ms. Woods said she was not home when the cat walked out. Oliver slipped out,
she said, because her roommate at the time, a blind poet, had not noticed
that a visitor had left the door open.

When she returned home, she said, she began looking for the cat right away.
"I was gone for one night," she said.

Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company

December 17th 05, 12:14 AM
Dick Peavey wrote:
> This is a case where I do not envy the judge. Whatever the outcome somebody
> will be hurt.

I wonder what the time frame was with the first woman finding her cat
missing until she contacted the relevant agencies? What was the
distance from her home to the agency that found the cat? Did she put up
posters and ask neighbors? This will all come out in the trial. And why
would a friend to her blind poet roommate leave a door open knowing
that the occupant is blind and there is a cat inside? The friend did
not know about the cat? In New York city, the one thing I never saw
were people leaving the doors open to apartments at any time. Everyone
locks the doors and it's multiple locks and police locks and all sorts
of ugly, big metal locks. To leave a door unlocked - I'm all ears if
this comes to trial. Maybe there is more to his story? Not that it
matters to the original case, probably does not, but it's unusual
behavior given the circumstances. I, personally, would check the door
to make sure it's locked because the person inside is blind and there
is a cat and this is New York city, not Kansas.

I wonder if the second woman, the unnamed lawyer, who finding a cat -
did she go about trying to find its owner first? And how does she get
to remain Jane Doe? She must know a lot of legal loopholes. I thought
that was reserved for serious criminal cases remaining anonymous for as
long as possible.

I guess this speaks volumes for microchipping one's cat. That would
have saved a whole lot of legal paper and nastiness.

December 17th 05, 02:27 PM
>And why would a friend to her blind poet roommate leave a door open knowing
> that the occupant is blind and there is a cat inside? The friend did
> not know about the cat?

The last time my cat got away, a friend left while i was sleeping,
thought he'd closed the door, but he didn't get it to latch. Mistakes
happen.

I read the story a few days ago -- Jane Doe as i understand it didn't
find the cat. She adopted it from a shelter that found it.

December 17th 05, 07:25 PM
wrote:
> >And why would a friend to her blind poet roommate leave a door open knowing
> > that the occupant is blind and there is a cat inside? The friend did
> > not know about the cat?
>
> The last time my cat got away, a friend left while i was sleeping,
> thought he'd closed the door, but he didn't get it to latch. Mistakes
> happen.

For sure. But New York city is not so forgiving of mistakes so people
are way more on their guard than other cities. When your cat got away,
was that a public apartment, most likely, like this in a busy city?

> I read the story a few days ago -- Jane Doe as i understand it didn't
> find the cat. She adopted it from a shelter that found it.

That's so. Her case seems stronger since she did not find the cat in
the streets but adopted it at a shelter. The stories don't tell if the
other women put up posters or checked out the local shelters.

Ron Herfurth
December 19th 05, 03:34 PM
"Dick Peavey" > wrote in message
...
> This is a case where I do not envy the judge. Whatever the outcome
somebody
> will be hurt.
>
> http://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/15/nyregion/15cat.html
>
> December 15, 2005
> The Furry, 4-Legged Centerpiece of a Custody Battle in Court
> By ANEMONA HARTOCOLLIS
>
> When Chavisa Woods, then an aspiring poet and a college student, found
> Oliver, he was a 6-month-old kitten and had just been thrown from a car.
>
> Four years later, in September 2004, he walked out of his home, and became
> the center of a custody battle that has wended its way through State
Supreme
> Court in Manhattan for months.
>

> Oliver/Gatsby's new owner declined, through her lawyer, to be interviewed.
> All that is known about Jane Doe is that she is a lawyer, according to Ms.
> Woods's lawyer, and that she adopted Oliver/Gatsby through Kitty Kind, a
> nonprofit animal shelter that operates in the Petco store in Union Square.
>
> But her lawyer said that Jane Doe was a cat lover, and that Oliver/Gatsby
> has never been happier. "She provides for the cat," he said. "The cat is
> thrilled with her."


How the F does the lawyer know that Oliver "has never been happier"? He
obviously didn't know the cat when it lived with Ms Woods ! Oliver could
very well have been much happier with Woods. Typical lying lawyer.

second, what kind of scum is Jane Doe to keep a cat that she KNOWS belongs
to somone else ?



> Through an exchange of photographs ordered by the court last spring, Ms.
Doe
> and Ms. Woods confirmed that Oliver and Gatsby are indeed the same cat.
But
> Ms. Doe has said in court papers that she bonded with the cat and did not
> want to part with him. Besides, her lawyer said, she believes that
> Oliver/Gatsby was not well cared for by Ms. Woods, and that the cat's
escape
> was proof of that.


ron

December 20th 05, 12:39 PM
I agree with ron. The women in possession of the cat is not very nice
at all.