A Fresno man who was caught with near-dead cat in his backpack a few months back was sentenced Wednesday to one year in jail, with credit for time served, and a total of 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 just behind WalMart at Peach and Shaw avenues because he was acting suspiciously.
When officers discovered he was on felony probation, they searched his backpack, finding some 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 stated. The cat’s front and back legs were bound, and tape was completely covering its mouth.
High was sentenced by Superior Court Judge Don Penner to 365 days in jail, with time credits for 260 days – 130 actual and another 130 credited for good time – 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 all the veterinary care costs, which totaled $1,272.96.
High’s target release date from the Fresno County Jail is now July.
The cat, named Zucchini, was kept at the Clovis animal shelter and has since been placed in a forever home, Gonzales stated.
While High has a history of drug abuse and a prior DUI, Gonzales said that it wasn’t clear if High was under the influence at the time he was found with the tied-up cat.
High’s attorney, Stephen Quade, asked the judge that High be allowed to participate in Teen Challenge, which is a 12-month residential program for drug abuse.
“I think this is really something he needs to go through,” Quade stated. “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 also 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 stated, 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 went on to say. “They’re violent – they cause harm to animals, but they can easily transition over to causing harm to people.”