When her cat was accused of trespassing, Miska's owner Anna Danieli received a settlement of $125,000!
"This case was about the unjustified and incredible prosecution of a domestic house cat," said Jon Zimmerman, Danieli's attorney. "This was really an historic settlement involving a cat in the state of Washington." Anna called him after her cat was taken from her and she received thousands of dollars in fines. They argued in the case that Miska is not a "vicious" cat and was just "being a cat" when the citations started rolling in. In fact they believed the cat was being targeted. "No other cat had been cited that many times in Bellevue or King County," said Zimmerman.
The legal team later discovered during the legal process that one of the complainants had a connection to animal control. "In addition to being the head of animal control, the manager had filed some of his own complaints simply because Miska had lived in his neighborhood. So, that was a real serious conflict of interest," Zimmerman said. "It wasn't until discovery in the case began to reveal, we began to realize, the scope of what was essentially a neighborhood dispute becomes much more because of the involvement of the government in it."
They hope their lawsuit will result in transparency about who is filing the complaints against animals. The conflict of interest was because the head of animal control was one of the neighbors who filed complaints, and the family didn't know it.
"Miss Danieli didn’t even know this individual, who had been the manager of animal control, this individual in her neighborhood had actually been filling these complaints until later on in the case," said Zimmerman.
The attorneys say now that a settlement is reached (she receives $125,000), they are advocating for policy changes.
"A conflict of interest policy definitely needs to be put in place."
"In a city that is a right-to-roam restricted city, then pet owners getting licenses for their cats should have the knowledge, and be told, cats are not allowed to roam the city," said Zimmerman. "We have a meeting set with King County and Bellevue as part of the settlement to see if we can achieve some policy changes for pet owners in Bellevue."