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Cat found ‘marinating’ in New York man’s trunk has a new home; former owner charged with cruelty

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Animal lovers across the country were shocked this week to learn the story of a New York cat who was subjected to a bizarre act of cruelty.

Police stopped Gary Korkuc, 51, of Cheektowaga, N.Y., when he allegedly failed to stop at a stop sign Sunday night. Officers heard meowing coming from Korkuc’s trunk and investigated. They found the man’s black-and-white cat, Navarro, in a cage, covered in oil, chili peppers, crushed red peppers and salt.

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Police said Korkuc told them he had intended to cook the cat because it had been ‘mean’ to him.

Korkuc was charged with animal cruelty and released. Navarro was taken to the nearby Erie County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals shelter -- the same shelter where Korkuc had adopted him just a few months before. Korkuc had ‘seemed normal and like he would be a good owner during the first screening,’ a shelter staffer told Fox News.

Korkuc later denied having planned to eat the cat, telling local news station WGRZ that ‘that’s conjecture and that’s an assumption.’ He insisted to WGRZ that Navarro -- a neutered male by all accounts but Korkuc’s -- had been pregnant and miscarried a litter of kittens. He claimed he was ‘taking it back over to the SPCA when [police] stopped me.’

Navarro was bathed several times at the SPCA shelter to remove the oil, peppers and salt, and staff said he took the ordeal in stride. ‘We can learn lessons in resiliency [from him],’ the organization’s public relations director, Gina M. Browning, told the Buffalo News.

SPCA officers, determined to prevent Korkuc from adopting an animal at the shelter again, drafted a memo to staff that read in part: ‘Do not under any circumstances adopt to this man ever again. He claims he did not want the cat because it was ‘possessive, greedy and wasteful.’ That the cat got pregnant after ‘spaying,’ even though it was a neutered male. This man is a danger to animals. ... was soaking cat in marinade to ‘cook.’’

Fortunately, Navarro’s story has a positive outcome. Several area animal lovers stepped forward to adopt him, but Cheektowaga, N.Y., resident Vicki Dankowski was the one to bring the once hard-luck cat home. She decided a change of name was in order, and voila: Navarro became Oliver.

‘My sister and I went over to the SPCA and interacted and played with Oliver for a few hours and then started the adoption process,’ Dankowski explained to Fox News. He joins Dankowski’s other cat, Anna Belle, and though the two haven’t become fast friends, she’s confident they’ll get along eventually.

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The upshot is, ‘Navarro spent last night curled up on a bed in his wonderful, new home,’ according to a statement on the SPCA’s website.

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-- Lindsay Barnett

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