By Sabina Mollot
Cat rescue organization KittyKind is hoping to find a kitten that was stolen on Friday at around 2:25 p.m. from the Union Square Petco.
Though no one saw him in the act, a man breezed into the store on East 17th Street while the cats and kittens up for adoption were in their cages. Volunteers are only there in the mornings, evenings and weekends, so none were present when the man came in mid-afternoon, walked over to the cages and broke the lock of a lower cage. He then took a 12-week-old striped kitten named Sage from inside, leaving its sister Rosemary behind, and walked out the door.
According to Valerie Vlasaty, a KittyKind volunteer later briefed on the situation, a customer happened to see the man leave and mentioned he’d walked out with a kitten to an employee. The employee then went outside to try and stop the man, but it was too late; he’d already disappeared into the Union Square crowd.
“We’re devastated, heartbroken,” said Vlasaty.
The thief was seen on some fuzzy surveillance video and is described as being a black man, 5’7”-5’9” tall and 24-28 years old. He was wearing a light grey long sleeved shirt/sweater and a pink backpack. Vlasaty added she was told that employees have seen the man in the shop before though he never buys anything.
The volunteer-run KittyKind isn’t interested in the thief though, just in getting Sage back and a $1,000 reward is being offered for his safe return, There will be “no questions asked,” a Facebook post by the organization promises.
The reward money was raised through donations.
“The cat rescue community is a tight one,” said Vlasaty, with the largest donation being $750 from an active cat rescuer couple.
All the sympathetic donations, large and small, Vlasaty suspects were made because cat and kitten theft is pretty rare, especially now that it’s kitten season.
While there is a $150 adoption fee with KittyKind, Vlasaty said if the man really didn’t want to pay the money, “People are giving kittens away on the subway. He could go on Craigslist.” The fees, she added, are charged to cover the costs of cats and kittens being fixed, getting their shots and de-worming if necessary. Sage was too young to be neutered, but had he been adopted, he could have been brought back when he was old enough for the procedure at no extra charge.
“I just hope he really wanted a kitten and is treating it well and won’t abuse it,” said Vlasaty. “We just want to know he’s safe and loved.”
Still, she added that anyone else with the same idea should understand it won’t be so easy to cat-nap a new pet next time. KittyKind will be investing in new locks and a better camera.
“It gives us a reason to do things better,” said Vlasaty, before adding, “I’ve been here 10 years and this hasn’t happened, not once. It’s really mind boggling. I’m hoping he’ll be smoked out by the temptation of $1,000. Or we’d be happy to give him $1,000.”
Anyone with information is asked to email firstname.lastname@example.org or message KittyKind on Facebook.