Negrito, an NYC bodega cat that back in June was brought to court against a pitbull—yes, you read that right—was just found not guilty.
Hell Gate initially reported on the curious small claims case, which saw a black bodega cat, a pitbull puppy, and dog witnesses as protagonists. Joseph Blanco, the pitbull puppy owner, was walking the dog together with his girlfriend when they stopped by G & J Deli on the corner of Audubon and West 187th Street in Washington Heights. According to Blanco, Negrito appeared out of nowhere and severely scratched the puppy, which resulted in several thousand dollars spent on veterinary bills. Those bills, together with recorded and time-stamped videos, were brought to court serving as evidence.
Jose Lora, the store’s manager, disagreed with the claims. He denied owning the cat, saying he just fed him occasionally. “I’m not going to make myself responsible for what an animal that is not my animal does out on the street,” Lora said through a translator, according to court transcripts.
Blanco, who wasn’t looking to settle the argument amicably either, asked the court that Lora paid him $5,000 in damages to cover the puppy’s veterinary bills. But the court ruled in favor of Lora (and of Negrito), Hell Gate reports.
According to New York law, when a domesticated animal attacks and causes harm to someone or to somebody’s property, the animal’s owner is responsible as long as he or she is (or should be) aware of the animal’s rowdiness. In this case, neither Negrito’s rowdiness nor Lora’s awareness of it could be proven.
“Claimant here failed to present any evidence stating either that the cat at issue had any vicious propensities or that the alleged owner or caretaker of the cat knew of such propensities that would endanger the safety of the persons and property of others,” reads Judge Elena Baron’s decision. “Accordingly, the case is dismissed.”