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Tuesday, July 16, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Pet Agency Took Catnapping to a New Level

(CN) - A couple claims in court that a pet-adoption agency stalked their home to ensure that their cat stayed inside, then "repossessed" the feline when it got out.

Since the Sept. 16 abduction of Nuit the cat from the Illinois home of Gene and Nancy Whipple, the nonprofit Save-A-Pet has been keeping the cat in quarantine, according to the complaint.

The complaint says Nuit is now known as Newman, but it is unclear whether the Whipples gave the cat that name when they adopted it from Save-a-Pet in December 2008, or whether the agency has renamed it in quarantine.

Since the Whipples had previously installed a tracking chip on Nuit in case he was ever lost or stolen, they say their ownership of the cat is apparent.

Save-a-Pet was allegedly watching the Whipples' house after they tried to adopt a second cat in January 2012.

As part of the adoption process, the Whipples had to sit for an interview with a Save-A-Pet representative, according to the three-page complaint in Lake County's 19th Judicial Circuit Court.

"During the interview the representative asked a trick question looking for an affirmative response, 'This cat will be outside, right?'" the complaint states. "The plaintiffs answered by stating about their current cat, Nuit, 'if he gets out he gets safely returned.'"

Apparently unhappy with that response, the interviewer told them that they had violated their previous contract and therefore could not adopt a cat from Save-A-Pet.

Nancy Whipple says she called Save-A-Pet the next day.

"The person on the other end of the phone again stated that the agreement was violated and that they would be out in a few days to 'repossess' the cat," according to the complaint.

"Nothing happened after that date until September 16, 2012."

While the Whipples were out of town last month, "Nuit inadvertently got out of the house," according to the complaint.

"Apparently Save-A-Pet or its representatives or agents had been watching or stalking the house to see if the cat had gotten out," the complaint states.

"Without permission representatives trespassed onto the plaintiffs' property and knowingly and intentionally stole Nuit with the intent to deprive the plaintiffs of Nuit. If they had found the cat, knowing he was micro-chipped they would have called to return him, but defendant did not so notify the plaintiffs they had found the cat."

The Whipples say Save-A-Pet left no note, card or phone message indicating that it had taken the cat.

After reporting the missing cat, the Lake County Sheriff opened a criminal investigation and found that Nuit was and still is in quarantine at Save-A-Pet, according to the complaint.

Save-A-Pet has allegedly refused the Whipples demands for the return their cat.

"The plaintiffs are concerned that once the cat is out of quarantine, that it will be placed in the 'cat room' for general sale to the public or others," the complaint states.

"The plaintiffs fear that defendant will not return the cat to them after it was wrongfully stolen or taken from their possession."

Sale of Nuit would cause them irreparable injury, they say.

The Whipples want an injunction against the possible sale of Nuit, a judgment returning the cat to them, and damages for trespass of their property.

James Kaiser of Richard J. Nakon & Associates in Wauconda represents the couple.

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