Middlesboro man pleads guilty to trapping cat that died

Published 5:00 pm Monday, March 11, 2024

A little over one year since the story of Pudgy the cat’s death came to light, a Middlesboro man has pleaded guilty to second degree animal cruelty and was sentenced in Bell County District Court on Monday.

As part of his plea deal, William Eddy agreed to pay a $500 fine and had a 90-day jail sentence probated over two years. Judge Robert Yoakum also ruled that Eddy was prohibited from possessing any animals or traps during the two-year probation period.

Kacee Bargo, who was also facing a second degree animal cruelty charge, was allowed to enter into a one-year diversion program as Eddy claimed he was the one responsible for Pudgy’s death.

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In February 2023, Judy Barnett’s Facebook page posted a video showing a black-and-white cat motionless inside a cage trap on the back porch of her home. A woman’s voice on the video warned people to “put their cats up” near West Chester Avenue between 26th and 27th Streets because the people living at that home were intentionally trapping them. The video also showed a second empty cage trap baited with open cans of cat food.

Middlesboro Police were contacted, and Lt. Josh Burchett investigated the residence. Speaking through his RING doorbell, Eddy told the lieutenant that he was out of state working and that he did catch a cat in his live trap, but it, unfortunately, passed away. He went on to say that he had set a trap for rats and other animals that were getting into the trash and destroying property, but the cat entered the trap and died inside. He also said the animal was removed from the trap and buried.

Neighbors shared a picture showing the cat disposed of in a small waterway near the residence.

Pudgy’s owner, Brenda Robbins, contacted the Bell County Attorney’s Office and Eddy and Bargo were charged with second degree animal cruelty in June. Their trial had been stayed previously and was scheduled to take place Monday before the guilty plea was entered.

“This is not the outcome that I wanted,” she said. “Pudgy was one of my babies and I really feel there should have been more of a punishment. But at least he is accepting responsibility and it shows there is some penalty for killing someone’s pet.”

Friends of Robbins had posted the hashtag #JusticeforPudgy and continue to lobby for HB 103, which would make the restraint and torture of a cat or dog a felony. That bill passed the House last year but stalled in a Senate committee.