Man Jailed for Unregistered Cat

Dan Smith insists the cat in question isn't his, but rather a feral cat that his estranged wife would feed.



File this under one way America's overcriminalization hasn't caught up to Canada's, at least: retired Quebec refrigeration technician Dan Smith is going to jail for failing to register his cat.

Under the law in Smith's hometown of Gatineau, Quebec, all cat owners must obtain proper documentation for their furry friends. Smith, however, insists the cat in question isn't his, but rather a feral cat that his estranged-wife would feed. 

Nonetheless, Smith has accepted his fate, turning himself in to Gatineau police on Thursday morning, the Ottawa Sun reports.

"I want to get this over with," Smith said. "I'm turning myself in," Smith told a woman at the front desk of the station. "I'm surrendering."

Smith has been chased for months by animal control officers and police in Gatineau over a $276 charge — fine and court costs — after being found guilty last summer of not having a licence for a cat, as required under municipal bylaw.

Smith, however, says that "Winnie" isn't his, and it's feral anyway, and he doesn't even live in Gatineau. He says Winnie belongs to his estranged wife, with whom he still shares a Gatineau home even though he also has a place across the river in Vanier.

Smith says he bears no resentment against the animal. Who Smith does blame is an overzealous SPCA officer and a Gatineau bylaw, which requires cats to be licensed, but doesn't make a distinction for a feral cat such as Winnie. The cat first showed up their door 12 years ago and stuck around because his wife kept feeding it, Smith says.

Smith opted to spend three days in jail rather than pay the $326 in fines and court fees he owes by this point. "It's the principle," he told the Sun. "Why should I pay a fine if I don't own a cat?"