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Ben Rodgers, Forum Communications , Published November 27 2012

Man sues Jamestown Humane Society for $10,000 over missing kittens

JAMESTOWN, N.D. – A Jamestown man seeking $10,000 from a pet shelter over two kittens made his case in small claims court Tuesday before Southeast District Court Judge John T. Paulson.

The case was taken under advisement.

Aron Williams said at the end of the hearing that he just wanted his missing kittens back for his niece. The problem was the James River Humane Society had already adopted one out earlier this year.

Williams, who lives in rural Jamestown, said the two black and white male kittens – Snickers and Skittles – were farm kittens that lived in his workshop and roamed in his pasture. They are 5 to 6 months old.

He claims on or about Sept. 8 the kittens wandered off his property and were picked up by a neighbor, who took them to the Humane Society.

On or about Sept. 18, Williams said he discovered they were at the shelter, after he made multiple attempts with law enforcement to track the animals down – one to the Jamestown Police Department on Sept. 18 and one to the Stutsman County Sheriff’s Office on Sept. 17.

“They (law enforcement) just said they would keep it on record and that the Humane Society usually calls them when something comes in,” Williams said.

Before that, Williams said he tried calling the shelter and was told the kittens were not there.

“There’s too many black and white cats,” he said of what the shelter supposedly told him. “Color shouldn’t matter,” he told the court.

He testified he called the JRHS and was told he needed to fill out an application and pay $100 to adopt the one kitten left at the shelter.

Jennifer Barnard, JRHS president, testified that it was likely the janitor who told Williams his kittens were not there.

JRHS has four part-time employees and operates as a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, which relies on donations and roughly $13,500 in taxpayer dollars annually from a half-mill tax levy.

Barnard also testified that JRHS does not advertise on the radio or in The Jamestown Sun for lost animals, but instead uses a national website, petfinder.com.

Volunteers at JRHS – about 20 – are supposed to put a missing pet’s information on a bulletin board at the shelter, something that did not happen on Sept. 28 when the call about Snickers and Skittles came in.

The JRHS website currently lists one of the kittens as available for adoption.

“We’d rather have the cats back. My niece cried every night; she wanted to go out and see them,” he said. “… It turned out they had them the whole darned time.”

Ben Rodgers writes for the Jamestown Sun