Most caring animal lovers wouldn’t think twice about rescuing an at-risk animal. In most rescue cases, a critter of some sort has been abandoned and is roaming the streets or is in a clearly abusive situation where it has not received food or care for some time.
This case is a little different since the animal lover in question effectively stole a cat from the family she worked for — but she knows what she did, and she says she’s willing to go to jail for it.
Tigger, a 15-year-old tabby cat, belonged to the Berman family of Long Island, New York. The family included mom Julie, dad Russell, and their two children aged 4 and 6. Their 33-year-old nanny, Rebecca Katz, had worked for them for six years but started noticing a disturbing trend two years ago.
According to Katz, at that time, the mother began blaming Tigger for having behavioral issues. The cat did seem to suffer from some sort of stomach problems as well, which didn’t help his situation in her eyes.
Katz claims that the mom started threatening to “give him the needle” and have him put down for his various little annoyances until she was saying such things nearly every other day, according to the New York Post.
While Katz says she offered multiple times to adopt Tigger herself over the years, the family refused. It all came to a head on July 2, when Julie made Katz aware of a more concrete timeline.
“‘Smell this. Tigger just threw up on my nice couch … Once he throws up on my nice furniture, that’s the end, he’s getting the boot, he’s getting the needle. Tigger’s going to the vet,'” Katz recalled Julie saying.
Katz said she made a comment that hopefully the vet would prescribe him some new food, to which she said Julie just smiled.
“You think he’s going for a check-up tomorrow?” she said, according to Katz. “He’s getting put to sleep.”
Apparently, the kids started to pick up on their mother’s language and ran with it. “They went around saying, ‘Tigger is getting the needle, Tigger is going to Heaven,'” Katz said.
Katz couldn’t handle it. She immediately decided that Tigger was going home with her, and she wrote a letter explaining her actions.
“I left a note on their kitchen counter basically saying, ‘I’m sorry I can’t let you do this. Let me give you the break you deserve,'” Katz said, according to NBC News.
Katz told NBC News that she hoped her taking Tigger wouldn’t put an end to her employment with the family.
She says she “admitted to everything” in that note, and the family called the cops on her. Katz did not resist, and actually turned herself in six days after stealing Tigger. She was charged with petit larceny.
Since Tigger has been in her possession, Katz has spent over $1,000 getting him checked out by the vet and getting multiple tests done. The Bermans have promised to pay her back for her bills if she returns the cat, but she says she doesn’t trust them.
The Bermans are saying their official reason for having Tigger scheduled to be put down was “due to many medical issues and our pet living in pain over the recent months,” but Katz still has Tigger and says he’s a sweet cat and the vets haven’t found anything really wrong with him.
“I am willing to go to jail and sleep with cockroaches over this, because this animal has a right to life,” Katz told The Post.
“Aging pets have rights, too. They put their cat on the curb … and I picked up the garbage.”
The Bermans and Katz appeared at the Nassau County District Court on July 31, and they’ll be back August 2. Friends have started a GoFundMe to raise money for Katz’s legal fees, and plenty of animal lovers who think she’s in the right have donated.
The Bermans said, “We just want our cat returned back to our family so we can move on from this situation,” but Katz has been allowed to keep Tigger with her until a final ruling has been made.
Katz told The Western Journal in an update on Aug. 5 that they are moving forward with trying to determine whether or not the 15-year-old cat really has a debilitating disease.
“The judge is allowing us to get further testing done on Tigger,” she said. “The results will show if he has a terminal illness or not. And if he does have a terminal illness, will he be able to live comfortably with the right treatment, and then and only then would euthanasia be appropriate if he is suffering.”
She also mentioned that the custody battle for Tigger will come to a close on Aug. 14, which is their next court date.
The whole incident has not only exhausted their funds, but Katz says her husband was also fired when detectives got involved and now they’re “relying solely” on the GoFundMe page that has been started for them.
“Tigger is happy and healthy as of now,” Katz concluded. “He is eating and playing, and regularly uses one of the 3 communal litter boxes.”
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