The capital’s cat scofflaw in now a jailbird.
Dan Smith was jailed Thursday for not having a Gatineau licence for a cat he says isn’t even his.
The 65-year-old retired refrigeration technician arrived at the Gatineau police station around 10 a.m.
“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.
As he surrendered Thursdsay, the French-speaking clerk didn’t seem to understand what Smith was saying, but he was eventually told by someone else behind the front desk to wait in the lobby for a police officer.
When the officer arrived, he asked Smith if he knew there was a warrant for his arrest and whether he wanted to pay his outstanding bill.
“Do you want to pay or go to prison?”
Replied Smith: “Prison.”
The officer explained the outstanding fees now came to $326 — which included the fine, court costs and late charges. His last statement from the municipal court was for $276, prompting Smith to protest that the bill had gone up. “There are some (extra) fees,” replied the officer.
When Smith said he wouldn’t be paying the bill, the officer explained he would go by police cruiser to jail to serve three days. “It’s only three days?” asked a somewhat relieved Smith. “They told me 11.”
Smith, using a cane because of arthritis and carrying a plastic bag of prescription drugs for various maladies, walked to the cruiser outside, was frisked and asked to hand over the plastic bag before he got into the back seat. Then he was off.
Minutes before arriving at the police station, Smith said his hands were shaking at the thought of jail, but there was no way he was paying the money to stay out. “It’s the principle. Why should I pay a fine if I don’t own a cat?”