Iowa man arrested for stealing own cat

A cat sits in a cage after being dropped off at the animal shelter at the Animal Health Technology Center at Kirkwood Community College June 22, 2008 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The center was setup for pets that were either found or abandoned after the Cedar River inundated the city with flood waters.
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

IOWA CITY, Iowa - A man says he's angry because he's being charged for taking what he believes was rightfully his: a pet cat.

"I'm going to fight it," said 31-year-old Justin Kaufman.

According to the Iowa Press-Citizen, Justin Kaufman went to the Iowa City Animal Care and Adoption Center on Feb. 25 to pick up his cat, Smokie, after it had been found roaming the streets. The 31-year-old said that the cat had escaped a few times before, so he had him microchipped in order to avoid future charges.

This time an animal shelter staff member said he had to pay a $35 fee to get Smokie back. Kaufman told the employee that he was never charged the two times he retrieved his cat from the organization. When the worker went to the back to ask a manager about the fee and to help another customer, Kaufman grabbed Smokie from a cage, stuffed him in a carrier and went home.

Three hours later, police showed up at Kaufman's door. According to the pet owner, an officer threatened to charge him with burglary from a government institution and take him to jail.

According to police documents, Kaufman entered a restricted area to retrieve Smokie, so he was charged with fifth-degree theft. He was fined $85 for having a cat at large -- plus the original $35 fee.

Kaufman told the Iowa Press-Citizen that he will plead not guilty to charge.

As for Smokie, the cat has been sent to live with his sister so he will not cause trouble again.

"I can't be getting charged with bogus, trumped up charges every time he gets out," he said.