22 Cats Back in Custody of Tok Man
Animal Control returns animals to owner
ANCHORAGE & TOK - A man who had 22 cats confiscated by Anchorage Animal Control, after they were found in freezing conditions inside his car, has gotten his animals back.
Jim Hershberger has agreed to a plea deal with city prosecutors that allows him to take his cats back to his homestead, outside of Tok, provided he meets certain conditions.
The cats have been at Animal Control since the middle of January – when officers found them sleeping in Hershberger’s parked car, in an industrial area of Anchorage, in temperatures below zero. They confiscated the animals and allowed Hershberger to visit twice a week.
“I would tell them I was going to get them out, but I think they were just losing hope,“ says Hershberger.
Hershberger went to court a half-dozen times before the city and his public defender worked out a deal. In exchange for pleading guilty to 22 counts of animal cruelty they have allowed him to have his cats back provided certain conditions are met.
All of the animals must be spayed or neutered, which has already been done. Hershberger also agreed to keep them warm and in good conditions. In addition, he agreed not to acquire any more cats.
The city says the parties involved, including prosecutors, APD and Animal Control, all agreed to the deal. Animal Control spokeswoman Brooke Taylor said one factor in the case was the animals were found to be in very good health.
“The concern at the time this case started was not the health of the animals, they were in good health when they were brought into our facility. It was the conditions that these animals were found in, so the settlement needed to address these kinds of factors.”
Hershberger says he’s confident he can live up to the deal. If he follows all the requirements for at least a year the city has agreed to drop all charges.