Pet shops in Japan, particularly ones in big cities, tend to get a lot of walk-in traffic in the evenings. As people walk by on their way home from work or errands, many of them will have their eye caught by a cute canine or fluffy feline through the window glass, and stop in to ooh and aah at them for a while, even if they’re not ready to commit to bringing an animal companion home just yet.
So odds are 36-year old Chie Yano didn’t attract much attention when she walked into a pet store in Kyoto’s Ukyo Ward a little before 7 p.m. on Wednesday. Nor did she attract much attention when she left. What did cause a commotion, however, was when it was discovered she’d secretly taken one of the animals with her.
Specifically, it was a Norwegian Forest cat that was missing, and when the shop staff noticed its absence, they called the police. Less than an hour later, officers spotted Yano, holding the cat (which was unharmed) while walking along a street near her home in Nakagyo Ward.
According to the police, Yano waited until none of the clerks were looking, then opened up the door of the cat’s enclosure and taken it with her. However, she insists that she did not steal the cat, because, in her words:
“This is a cat I found before and took home with me, so this isn’t stealing.”
It’s unclear whether Yano simply found a stray and brought it back to her place for a night before it ran off, or whether she was its caretaker for an extended period of time. If it’s the former, her claim of ownership is shaky at best, and if it’s the latter, that raises the issue of how the pet shop came to be in possession of the animal. Then there’s the matter of how reliably Yano can visually differentiate the stray that she claims to have previously found from other cats of the same breed.
But even if it does turn out that Yano has a sound claim that she’s the rightful owner of the cat, the police still don’t look favorably on private citizens taking the resolution of custody claims into their own hands like this, especially since the cat is valued at 280,000 yen, and so she’s been placed under arrest for theft, even if she’d classify it as a rescue.
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