A Chicago woman is in a legal battle to reclaim her cat after she failed to keep the cat indoors, per an alleged adoption agreement two years ago.
Rae Bees, 30, adopted a Maine Coon cat two years ago from Chicago-based Feline Friends. She named the cat Reggie (AKA Forrest) in honor of the cerebral comedian Reggie Watts. A more detailed article was published January 23 by Chicago Tribune. A video showing Bees and Reggie can be found there as well.
In a nutshell, Reggie ran out an open door October 30, 2017 and Bees turned to her Facebook friends for help comically stating
“i’m Reggie and I’m lost (again. i don’t have a collar. i coulda been catnapped. i will escape again.”
Reggie was recovered by Feline Friends of Chicago after a microchip still registered to them was scanned after a Good Samaritan brought him to a vet. Once seeing Bee’s social media post (including photos of Reggie outdoors) they decided not to return the cat.
Illinois law recently took effect that allows judges to determine the “best interest” of pets for divorce cases instead of treating them as property.
Since November 2017, Bee’s has filed paperwork to sue the nonprofit in Cook County Circuit Court. Feline Friends countersued because their adoption contract stated Reggie had to be an indoor only kitty.
Until a ruling is made Judge Michael Mullen has awarded Feline Friends temporary custody. Bee’s is allowed to visit Reggie once a week in a Logan Square vet’s office.
Bee’s is an artist and now her fellow artists are making and selling “Free Reggie” stickers and T-shirts to cover court costs to get Reggie back. She co-founded the Black & Brown Babes Collective and works as a fraud analyst for GrubHub by day. In 2014 she helped out the rescue by doing a fundraiser that included Reggie artwork.
A GPS tracking collar was suggested by Bees and an agreement of $1,500 bond paid out if Reggie took another trip into the great outdoors. She even agreed to unscheduled video conferencing calls. According to Bee’s and her lawyers, all offers were rejected by Feline Friends.
Edward H. Williams, attorney for Feline Friends, acknowledged there is a debate over keeping a cat indoors versus allowing it to roam. Williams added the countersuit was to protect a cat from danger, including not allowing the adopter to declaw a cat. He believes a rescue has the right to enforce all contracts.
Bee’s, who filed the lawsuit under her legal name Rachael Siciliano, has attorney Mariana Karampelas working on the case. Karampelas says the contract shouldn’t be enforceable because nothing discloses the cat could be taken away. Chicago-Kent College of Law professor Richard Gonzalez is working pro bono on the case and calls the contract “a list of aspirations.”
Determined to get Reggie back, Bee’s told Chicago Tribune the cat is an escape artist
“I think they thought that I was a simple art kid and would give him up like I didn’t care, but I am just so adamant about trying to get him back. He’s like a family member for me.”
Feline Friends addressed the issue on their Facebook community page (click here for full post)
“We also want to point out that, in connection with the lawsuit, we learned from veterinary records and Rae Bees’ own social media posts that: (1) Rae Bees did let the cat out intentionally, (2) the cat would “escape” her home 3 to 4 times per week, (3) the cat has been “lost” at least three times,(4) Rae Bees told her vet that the cat was an “indoor/outdoor” cat, (5) the cat had a flea infestation, (6) the cat had been killing and eating rats (which can carry disease and poison), (7) the cat was fighting with other cats (which can also carry disease), (8) the cat had been attacked by raccoons (which can also carry disease), and (9) the cat had entered a home a scratched a baby.
We are also not backing down on this matter because of the importance of the contracts adopters sign, whether from us or other groups. We provide all of our cats with a lifetime commitment. If any adopter is unable or unwilling to care for a cat or abide by our conditions, we will take the cat back. And if an adopter such as Rae Bees completely ignores her promises and places one of the cats under our protection at risk of injury or death, we will do everything we can to protect that cat.”
Reggie is currently in foster care through Feline Friends of Chicago.
So…which side do you agree with? Feel free to sound off in the comments. Note: Chicago Tribune reported Reggie was adopted five years ago but Bees states in the video she adopted him two years ago.