Friday, April 12, 2024

Man arrested after 7 cats surrendered at the SPCA in a sealed bin and zipped-up suitcase, 6 dead upon arrival

Deputies from the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office arrested 36-year-old Ian Bender of Ozona and charged him with seven counts of Animal Cruelty.

According to court documents, Bender brought 7 cats to the SPCA at 9099 130th Avenue n to surrender them. Five cats were in a plastic bin with the lid on, and two were in a small zipped-up suitcase.

No holes were cut in the bin or suitcase to allow airflow for a living animal. 5 of the cats were dead upon arrival, one cat had to be euthanized due to its poor condition, and the last cat was in critical condition with an internal temperature of 106. It is believed the cats were in the bin and suitcase for over an hour without proper airflow and ventilation, which resulted in the deaths of 6 cats and the critical condition of the seventh. The bin and suitcase were found with urine and feces inside them, indicating the cats were put into the bins and suitcases while alive.

When the cats were removed from the bin and suitcase, they were found to be wet to the touch due to a combination of urine and condensation from their breath. The defendant also stated he put the cats in the bin and suitcase when they were alive and did this because he had no carriers.

Throughout the investigation, detectives learned that Bender was looking after the cats while a friend was on a business trip. All of the cats were under the age of 18 months and were all healthy and in good condition.  After caring for the cats for approximately a week and a half, detectives say Bender stated he was sick of caring for them and began to plan the surrender.

Bender placed the cats in the bin and the suitcase because he stated he had no other carriers to put them in and dropped them off at the SPCA. It is unknown how long the cats were in the bin and suitcase.

Bender was booked into the Pinellas County Jail at 4:27 a.m. on Wednesday, March 28, 2024. Later that day, at 7:56 p.m., he was out of jail on a supervised release on recognizance.

Supervised Release on Recognizance (SROR): This program is responsible for the investigation & supervision of pretrial defendants charged with certain non-violent felony crimes or misdemeanor domestic violence charges. Offenders can be ordered to this program by a judge or referred by any person.  Offenders on this program will be required to maintain weekly contact and abide by all court ordered conditions.


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