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Friday, 18 April 2014

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Disabled Carlisle man's plea not to take his cats away

A disabled man is at loggerheads with housing chiefs who have told him that he will have to give up all but two of his eight pet cats.

Stephen Bailey photo
Stephen Bailey

Stephen Bailey, who is confined to a wheelchair since a road accident left him with head injuries when he was just eight, says that his pets are his life.

But social landlord Riverside Carlisle has intervened after a complaint from one of his neighbours about late-night caterwauling by some of his eight pets.

The housing association has warned the 49-year-old that his tenancy agreement spells out that he is allowed to have only two cats in his rented home on Shadygrove Road, Raffles, where he has lived since he was a teenager.

But Mr Bailey has said that he would rather be homeless than give up his pets.

He said: “I inherited two cats from my father and other people have brought them to me to be rescued.

“I don’t want to give them away to the RSPCA or somebody like that because they’re well looked after here.

“I don’t want to get rid of them. If I had to do that I would feel that my life was ruined. They’re like my family.

“People round here call me the Cat man of Alcatraz. I just feel that Riverside are being a bit harsh about it.”

One of Mr Bailey’s neighbours said that the cats are well looked after and clearly a huge part of his life.

“You can see them following him up the street to the shop when he goes out, like the Pied Piper,” she said.

A spokeswoman for Riverside said that it was unthinkable that Mr Bailey would be evicted over the issue, given that he is vulnerable.

But she added: “The tenancy agreement states only two cats are allowed to be kept and that pets must be kept in a way that does not cause a risk to health or safety to anyone or cause a nuisance to neighbours.

“When we receive a complaint we follow this up by looking into the matter further. We have visited Mr Bailey to discuss the number of cats he has and the conditions in which they are living.

“We want to work with him to find a solution that is acceptable to everyone. We understand the cats are a lifeline to him and we are assessing how we can support him further.”

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