In San Francisco, a man rescued a cat he thought was neglected and in need. He later returned her to her homeless owner. But did he do the right thing?
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Tom Neville, a management assistant for a hotel chain, saw the desperate-looking cat tied up under a freeway overpass, with no owner in sight and dogs nearby. Neville took the pug-nosed Himalayan to his office and fed her. As he later told the Chronicle, the cat’s hair was matted, and she had fleas and sores. After a few weeks under Neville’s care, the animal was thriving.
Meanwhile, a homeless man named Daniel Harlan told police that his cat, Samantha, had been stolen. He’d left her tied to a leash while going to buy food, he said. The Chronicle ran a picture of the missing feline, and when Neville saw it, he was torn. “He believed he’d given the cat a new lease on life,” the Chronicle reported. “He didn’t want to see the animal go back to the homeless life.”
“I wanted to do the right thing,” said Neville. He returned Samantha to her owner. Harlan wept at their reunion.
Many Chronicle readers were adamant that returning the cat was the wrong thing to do. “The cat is sentenced to a life of matted fur, open sores, and being tied in the rain,” wrote one. “The right thing for the homeless guy to do,” wrote another, “would have been to relinquish ownership to someone more ready, willing, and able to take care of the critter. Instead, he took the selfish route.” Another reader suggested taking up a collection “to buy the cat” back and return her to her rescuer. But one of the few readers to defend the homeless man wrote, “Cats don’t necessarily think of a place of residence as home. They’re at home with family, and that’s what (her owner) Daniel is to her: family.”
Tell us what you think: Was returning the cat to her owner the right thing to do? Is it irresponsible for homeless people to have pets?