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Originally published Saturday, July 18, 2009 at 12:00 AM

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Man sentenced to nine months for stabbing 'therapy cat'

A drunken man who stabbed a "therapy cat" while in treatment was sentenced to nine months in jail Friday by a judge who cut short Tracy Clark's efforts to blame his rage on his alcohol problem.

Seattle Times staff reporter

A drunken man who stabbed a "therapy cat" while in treatment was sentenced to nine months in jail Friday by a judge who cut short Tracy Clark's efforts to blame his rage on his alcohol problem.

Clark said he was deeply sorry for hurting the animal, named Scatt, and said that he likes dogs and cats and "very, very much regrets what happened."

But when he started to blame his drinking, Superior Court Judge Michael Hayden stopped him and told him to stop making excuses for his violent behavior. He sent Clark to jail and ordered that he spend his days in alcohol treatment at the King County Community Center for Alternative Programs.

"I see about a dozen prior drug and alcohol convictions, six against people and one against a cat," Hayden said. "This is a repeating pattern."

Clark had been living at White Center's Cross Church, attending drug-and-alcohol-recovery classes, when he attacked the church therapy cat earlier this year.

Clark told King County sheriff's deputies that the cat had attacked him first. He reacted by throwing the cat against a wall and stabbing it. Deputies found a knife on Clark and some 20 scratches on his arm when he was arrested, court charging papers said.

Michael Stinnette, men's Ministry Leader at Cross Church, found Scatt in the parking lot on April 19, the day after the attack. He called police; the cat was taken to the veterinarian for treatment of severe knife wounds and broken ribs.

After the attack, Clark woke another resident and told him he had "gutted" Scatt, according to charging documents. That resident reported this to Stinnette. Clark packed up his belongings and moved out of the house but was arrested the next day, after Stinnette saw him walking in White Center.

Nobody from Cross Church testified in court Friday. Defense attorney Aimee Sutton told Hayden that church officials have invited Clark back to the program as long as he apologized for what he did to the cat.

Two people from Pasado's Safe Haven, an animal-rights group in Snohomish County, attended the hearing. They took photos of Clark and thanked Senior Deputy Prosecutor Craig Peterson afterward.

Scatt had lived at the church for about a decade after showing up on the doorstep and refusing to leave. Over the years, the cat became a fixture and source of therapy for the men who had joined the church while trying to kick drugs and alcohol.

Scatt has recovered from the injuries but is no longer working with people in the treatment program. An employee at the facility said the cat now lives with Cross Church Pastor Jerry Wilson.

Jennifer Sullivan: 206-464-8294 or jensullivan@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

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