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12 Cats Stolen From Breeder's Home; 6 Recovered at Dog Park

January 23, 2003|Mai Tran | Times Staff Writer

A dozen Abyssinian cats worth a total of $15,000 were stolen from the home of an Orange County cat breeder over the weekend, but half were found at a Laguna Niguel dog park where they'd apparently been dumped.

The remaining six cats, including a champion male, are still missing, and the owner is offering a $6,500 reward for information that leads to the arrest of the catnapper.

Carolyn Osier, 63, of Laguna Niguel said she was shocked when she returned early Monday from Denver, where she was judging a cat show.

"My first thought was that everybody must be asleep," she said. "I did a double take around the house, thinking something was wrong with my eyes. My heart just sank when I found out my children had been kidnapped."

The cats had been left home but with enough food and water to get them through the weekend.

Police said it appeared the thief or thieves broke into the home, rounded up the cats and whisked them off in cages.

Six were later found wandering at the Laguna Niguel Dog Park on Street of the Golden Lantern Avenue, about four miles from Osier's home, police said.

Visitors at the park spotted the cats Sunday and called animal control officers, who searched the park and found two female adults -- Blossom and Goody Two Shoes -- and four kittens.

"I don't understand how they can be so cruel," Osier said. "They were my babies."

"The house was secure, so we're not treating it as a runaway," said Sgt. Mike Gavin of the Orange County Sheriff's Department. It's possible, he said, that the thief or thieves hoped to sell off the stolen cats or breed them.

The cats found at the dog park were taken to an urgent-care facility, where they were treated for minor scratches, then taken to the county's animal shelter.

When Osier returned Monday, she said she searched animal shelters, called pet stores and veterinarians and notified the federal Department of Agriculture, which inspects pet brokers.

A friend later spotted pictures of the six cats on a Web page that posts photos of animals lodged at the county's animal shelter.

Authorities said it's possible some of the other cats were also left at the park and that a visitor -- perhaps in a humane gesture -- took one of the animals.

Osier said the missing cats include Chia, a pregnant female, and Karnak, a grand champion male. The rest of the missing felines are kittens -- Bonner, Dory, Bailey and a week-old cat that hadn't been named.

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