John Norris

PERU — A Miami County man is facing misdemeanor charges of theft and cruelty to animals after police say he left four kennels full of nine cats behind the Peru Animal Hospital.

According to a probable cause affidavit filed through the Miami County Prosecutor’s office, John Norris, 48, told police he put the animals behind the facility after getting into an argument with the cats’ owner, who had been renting a room from Norris at his residence in the 300 block of East Fifth Street in Peru.

The cats’ owner had been living at Norris’ residence since May 12, court records noted, and the man told police that he securely kept the nine cats inside animal crates when he left the residence because he was concerned that Norris would do something to the animals.

Court records stated that the cats' owner went for a bicycle ride on May 19 and returned to find all of his cats missing. 

Two separate witnesses told police that they noticed Norris come out of his residence that same day and place several animal crates into a white van before driving away, court records stated. The cats’ owner also stated that Norris told him he had to get his property out of the residence or he would not be getting his cats back.

In an interview with police, Norris denied having anything to do with taking the animals until police stated that witnesses saw him load animal crates into his vehicle, the affidavit indicated. Police say Norris then stated that he "took care of them," referring to the animals. 

Norris also told police that the cats' owner should not bring the animals back into the residence or “he wasn’t going to find them next time,” the affidavit noted.

Police were later able to locate the cats where Norris told them he had left them, and they all appeared to be in healthy condition. They were then reunited with their owner. 

The affidavit did note that the animals were found around 10 a.m. on a Sunday, with the facility not expected to open until 7 a.m. the following day.

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