It’s been almost two months since a cat in Grand Traverse County was found near death, with his head, chest and paws wrapped in duct tape. The cat was nursed back to health by the Grand Traverse Veterinary Hospital and they named him Ronnie. According to Dr. Jane Alexander, Ronnie is now completely healthy and has been adopted by one of their vet techs. Ronnie spends his days as an office cat and his nights with his new family.
Back in November, a concerned citizen named Ryan called in to Grand Traverse Animal Control about a cat in his backyard who was wrapped in duct tape. He was unsure if the cat was alive or not. Animal Control Officer, Deb Zerafa, acted immediately and went over to find the cat. She was able to catch him and took him the Grand Traverse Veterinary Clinic for immediate attention. A team of six veterinarians and vet techs removed the tape from Ronnie’s body and cared for him. In addition to being covered in duct tape, Ronnie also had fleas, infections, a tumor on his ear, had loss of muscle, pale gums and was anemic. The police report indicates that the cat was wrapped in the tape for about three days.
The police report shows that the cat was found by a man named Ryan in his backyard and that he called the Animal Control Department on November 14, 2016. Deputy Chris Halleck of the Grand Traverse County Sheriff’s Office, A Garfield Township Deputy, investigated the case by interviewing neighbors and the alleged owner of the cat. According to neighbors, the cat’s owner was identified as Mykhaylo Narolskyy, a Ukranian with approximately 12 children. A neighbor had approached Narolskyy about the cat being duct taped, thinking it was a prank, but was told that Narolskyy had been the one to wrap the tape around the cat. The neighbor was told that Narolskyy had seen the cat in the yard, bleeding from one of its ears and thought that it had been attacked by another animal. Through a translation from Narolskyy’s son, the neighbor was told that the tape was put on the cat’s ear to stop the bleeding and then tape was put on the cat’s paws to stop it from scratching at its ear.
When Deputy Halleck made contact with the suspect, he talked with Narolskyy’s son who acted as an interpreter. Narolskyy said that it wasn’t his cat but that it spent a great deal of time there. It would go from neighbor to neighbor and it would sleep on the Narolskyy’s porch and was a friendly, older cat. If he saw the cat on his property, he would give the cat some food.
Narolskyy said that he applied gauze to the ear and wrapped it around the cat’s head in an attempt to keep it on the cat so it would not bleed to death. He eventually had to tape the paws because the claws were removing the tape and the gauze and it kept bleeding. He said he was worried about the cat but could not afford vet care due to a lack of money. He said that at no time did he mean to cause any harm or injury to the animal. Narolskyy mentioned several times that he placed gauze under the tape but that was not able to be verified by Dr. Alexander. When Pet Friends called to inquire about the situation, Dr. Alexader could only say that there might have been some sort of material with the tape – but she couldn’t tell because it was old and dirty.
There are now laws concerning cats in the Grand Traverse County Animal Ordinance however abuse and neglect laws concerning animals are dictated by the state. The Michigan Penal Code defines the person responsible for the animal as the owner, possessor or person having the charge or custody of the animal. The Michigan Penal Code defines providing adequate care as providing sufficient food, water, shelter, sanitary conditions, exercise and veterinary medical attention in order to maintain an animal in a state of good health. Neglect is defined as a failure to sufficiently and properly care for an animal to the extent that the animal’s health is jeopardized. A state of good health is an animal who is free from disease and illness, has proper body weight and temperature for the age and species of the animal. Failure to provide adequate care and negligently allowing an animal to suffer unnecessary neglect and pain can result in a misdemeanor punishable to imprisonment up to 93 days, a $1000 fine and up to 200 hours of community service.
When Pet Friends contacted Prosecutor Robert Cooney about the status of the case, he stated that the officer did a follow-up interview with the veterinarian and that after receiving the supplemental report from that interview, he has additional witnesses still to be interviewed before a final determination will be made.
If you have an opinion on this case and would like to contact Cooney’s office, you can do so (respectfully) at firstname.lastname@example.org.