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Tuesday, May 21, 2024
THE CAT IS BACK: Catnapped feline found in NOTL, police launch investigation
Zeus, a little thinner but otherwise none the worse for wear, is back in the arms of owner Wendy Clout a day after being found on Thursday. A neighbour confessed to trapping the cat and dumping him near Church and McNab roads in NOTL on March 4. Richard Wright
Zeus the cat was missing after a neighbour seized him and dumped him in rural Niagara-on-the-Lake six weeks ago. Owner Wendy Clout of St. Catharines is ecstatic that she now has her cat back. Richard Wright

Zeus the cat is back.

The three-year-old black and white male, missing from a St. Catharines home since March 4, was found on Thursday, April 18 in rural Niagara-on-the-Lake near Church and McNab roads.

A neighbour has admitted to trapping and dumping the cat in that exact location.

Its owners, the Clout family, had been conducting daily searches in the area since April 10, the day they first heard the neighbour’s confession.

“One of the people helping us look saw him there on Monday (April 15), but we lost him,” said Wendy Clout.

“We’ve gone back every night and then just happened to see him. We knew it was Zeus right away.”

The family is ecstatic to have their beloved pet back and says the reunion has been very special after six weeks apart.

“When we got him home, we were all so happy,” Clout said. “I don’t think he stopped purring all night. I think he is still purring.”

Meanwhile, the Niagara Regional Police have launched an investigation into the neighbour’s involvement after initially referring the matter to PAWS (Provincial Animal Welfare Services).

The Clouts called police two days after overhearing the admission by the neighbour while they were outside working in their yard. That information was also relayed to PAWS.

Still, the service concluded that nothing could be done to hold the neighbour responsible.

That, said the Clouts, is despite the investigator herself hearing from the man that he trapped a black and white cat and took it to NOTL. There wasn’t enough proof that the cat was Zeus, PAWS told the Clouts.

The Lake Report also obtained a detailed confession after following up on the story on April 16. The neighbour’s shocking rant was published in the April 18 edition.

“Further information has now led to a uniform response and officers are following up with the complainant,” Niagara police spokesperson Const. Jesse Vajasic said in an April 18 email.

“As the investigation is in initial stages, there is no further information at this time.”

While happy the cat is back, Clout is upset by the process when it comes to protecting animals, especially on the part of PAWS.

“It doesn’t feel like they have the authority to do anything, so why is it even referred to them,” she asked.

When contacted and asked for information that could shed light on the services’ effectiveness, the ministry of the solicitor general responded with big numbers that show a small rate of success.

“Since the creation of Animal Welfare Services in 2020, over 86,500 inspections and/or investigations have been undertaken,” said spokesperson Brent Ross.

“This has resulted in over 11,400 orders issued, over 950 charges laid and over 7,800 animals removed from situations negatively impacting their welfare.”

In other words: the success rate from investigations to when charges are actually laid is just over one per cent.

“We found Zeus right where the guy said he put him,” said Clout. “That proves he did it. Seems like they (PAWS) have no teeth.”


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