By Will Ripley, of CNN affiliate KUSA in Denver
LAFAYETTE, Colo. — Boulder High School senior Seth Franco decided to enjoy Wednesday’s warm weather by taking his cat, Stella, for a jog.
When the kitty couldn’t keep up, the 19-year-old did something police consider animal cruelty.
Franco says there’s another side to this story. He calls it a big misunderstanding and hopes others will learn from his mistake.
“I’m more of a dog person but this cat is so cool that I just took her in and take care of her. I love her,” Franco said.
Franco says he found Stella in a sad situation last October.
“She was tied up to a tree behind Boulder High School with a note that said, ‘I need a new home,’” Franco said.
Six months later, the two are almost inseparable.
“I just care a lot about her. I guess more than the average person does,” Franco said.
Franco says he wanted Stella to enjoy the beautiful weather.
“So I thought, ‘Hmm, maybe before work I can go run the lake and the cat can come with me,’” Franco said.
Wednesday afternoon, they went jogging in a loop around Waneka Lake Park in Lafayette.
“She ran about 45 percent of the way and then it was so hot she started panting real bad,” Franco said.
Franco tethered Stella to a rock underneath a tree so he could keep jogging.
Franco didn’t know that kind of tethering is against Lafayette city ordinance.
Someone called the police and said Stella was being attacked by birds.
“There were no birds going at her. There were crows crowing at her,” Franco said.
Some passing joggers scared the crows away as Franco finished up his run.
“And they were yelling at me. Telling me I abuse my animal. I did not intentionally abuse my animal. If anything, I just take care of it,” Franco said.
Franco was issued a summons to appear in court on a charge of animal cruelty.
“And they kind of just told me it was common sense to not tie an animal up,” Franco said.
Franco hopes others learn from his mistake.
“Don’t abandon or hurt or abuse your animals or leave them tied up while you go jogging. Because you’ll get in trouble,” Franco said.
Lafayette Animal control officers saw that Stella wasn’t hurt so they let her go home with Franco after giving him the summons.
He’s due in court on that animal cruelty charge in May.