A new federal court filing accuses Gaston County of civil rights violations, and 16 names on the complaint belong to cats.
Defendants “Boo Loo,” “Tony Tiger,” “Girlfriend Sara,” “Buh Buh Logan,” “Sillygirl Sally,” “Rascal Russell” et al were seized by the county’s animal control officers in early November from the Cherryville home of Damon Fields, court documents show.
Now, both the names of the pets and their owner appear on the cover page of an unusual federal complaint alleging violations of due process — human and feline alike.
The courthouse cat fight dates back to Nov. 5, when animal control officers responded to a neighbor’s complaint and searched Fields’ small ranch home, a home that Assistant Gaston County Attorney Sam Shames says reeked so badly of cat pee that investigators had to don masks before entering. Inside, Shames says, the officers tip-toed around “an incredibly large amount” of cat poop. They left with 16 cats, including five kittens.
Fields, 37, was charged with 16 counts of misdemeanor animal cruelty. The county also started a $20-a-day tab on the cost of housing, feeding and caring for each of the animals, a bill that reached more than $10,000 after 30 days. Fields did not return a phone call from the Observer Thursday seeking comment.
Under a deferred-prosecution plan in mid-December approved by a Gaston County judge, Fields had his criminal charges put on hold and his financial debt to animal control waived, provided that he keeps only five cats at his home. Fields had to pick the pets he wanted to keep and have them sterilized. The rest, if healthy, will be put up for adoption. He also had to open his house, about 40 miles west of Charlotte, to animal control inspections over the next six months.