October 24, 2021

Family pet found in trap

Joe McIntyre/staff photographer

Christina Stevens places a memorial stone for her family cat, Tank, at her home in Cortland recently. The cat was found dead in a trap at a vacant house. The Cortland Community Society for the Protection of Animals is investigating.

Owner Christina Stevens recalled how her cat, Tanklin, would wake her in the morning by gently pawing at her. Tank, as he was known, also loved to sit on a stool handmade by Stevens’ daughter, Autumn.

Stevens and her daughter adopted Tank in April 2016 from the Cortland Community Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, he soon became part of the family and a year later he was gone.

Tank was last seen April 19. Two days later, Stevens said she received a call from the SPCA. Tank had been found by neighbors over a block away at a vacant property on West Main Street in a small-game trap, Stevens said. “It was horrific,” Stevens said.

Tank liked to wander, Stevens said. He was curious. “He liked to venture.”

Most of the time, Tank would wander among the backyards of neighbors’ property, venturing only a couple hundred yards at most.

While standing in her backyard, Stevens placed a small inscribed stone beside a homemade cross, made by another neighbor. “Forever in our hearts.”

“I think it’s awful that someone would put a trap in the city,” said Kathy Gee, Stevens’ neighbor on Wadsworth Street in Cortland.

Gee said Tank would wander into her backyard from time to time.

SPCA Investigator William Carr said he is investigating the incident. While he could not release much information, Carr said if charges are brought, the person who set the trap could be charged with violations to local and state laws.

William Knickerbocker, director of city code enforcement, said it is against city regulation to set or use a leg-gripping trap of any kind or size, which is outlined in City Code Chapter 74-27.

Stevens said it wasn’t long after Tank was found that her friend and neighbor, Abby Tollner, pushed her to go to the SPCA and have something done.

Stevens said the Tollner family became a second family for her cat. Often Tank would wander to their home or their backyard garden. “He took to Abby.”

Tank became a big part of the Tollners’ lives, Tollner said. He was persistent about visiting the garden and coming to the home. “We called him our little friend.”

Tollner said that while everything that happened is sad, it brought neighbors together.

Stevens said her daughter was the one who adopted the cat, but Stevens fell in love with him. “He made me love him.”