FRESNO, Calif. --An orange tabby cat once believed dead is making a great recovery and the man who nearly killed him is being punished.
Once taped up and nearly suffocated, the cat looks much better now. A happy ending didn't seem possible the first time we saw this cat, but it's here.
"He's been rehabilitated," said prosecutor Lynette Gonzales. "He was in rehabilitation for some time before he was adopted by a new home."
Now known as "Zucchini", the orange tabby's new owner tells us "He is a very loving cat that beat the odds."
Four months ago, the odds were heavily against him when Clovis police found him in a backpack when they stopped Cody High, a known drug abuser. Electrical tape covered his mouth, his nose, and his paws.
"It appeared to the officers that the animal was dead, and when they took the tape off he actually gasped for some air, so they got a veterinary assistant right away," Gonzales said.
"Did they find electrical tape with (High) too?" an Action News reporter asked her.
"They did find electrical tape in the backpack that did belong to the defendant," Gonzales said. "He did claim it."
High initially denied responsibility for the savage tape job, but eventually, he admitted to animal cruelty. A judge sentenced him Wednesday to a one-year jail sentence and three years on probation during which time he's not allowed to own animals.
It's not much, according to prosecutors, but the best they could do under current animal abuse laws.
"Hopefully, the community and the judges and the court and police officers will take these offenses seriously because they are serious," Gonzales said. "They're violent and they cause harm to animals, but they can easily transition and they cause harm to animals, but they can easily transition over to causing harm to people and that's the biggest concern."
His attorney tells me High had a hardcore heroin problem at the time and he's very remorseful about the abuse. Part of his punishment will be drug rehab.
He's hoping Zucchini won't be the only one who comes out of this with a happy ending.