Joel Cairo  /  Newsday
Deputy district attorney Carol Moran holds an 8-month-old former stray cat that she adopted and named Fred, that was used for a sting on a fake veterinarian.
updated 2/9/2006 2:44:40 PM ET 2006-02-09T19:44:40

He came from the streets of Brooklyn, a cool customer on four legs, the perfect bait for a sting on a fake veterinarian.

Meet Fred, undercover kitten.

Authorities on Wednesday introduced the 8-month-old former stray cat that posed as a would-be patient while police investigated a college student accused of treating pets without a license.

At a news conference, Fred sported a tiny badge on his collar as he posed for photos with owner Carol Moran, a prosecutor.

“He’s pretty easygoing, a real Brooklyn guy,” Moran said.

Fred shared the spotlight with Burt the Boston terrier, an alleged victim of Steven Vassall, 28, who was arrested last week and released on $2,500 bail.

Burt’s owner, Raymond Reid, contacted authorities after the dog survived a botched operation. In hindsight, he said, he should have been suspicious of a veterinarian who only made house calls and treated animals at an undisclosed location.

Vassall “seemed like a genuinely nice guy,” Reid said. “I’m glad they caught him, but at the same time I feel sorry for him.”

Last week, an investigator posing as Fred’s owner summoned Vassall to an apartment rigged with a hidden camera. Authorities played a videotape at the news conference showing the defendant saying the kitten could be neutered for $135.

Vassall was arrested as he left the apartment carrying Fred in a box and cash for the operation. Investigators later recovered a price list for vaccinations and other procedures, including surgeries.

It was unclear how long Vassall — a college student who once worked as a laboratory assistant in a vet’s office — allegedly scammed pet owners before Fred helped put him out of business.

Joyce Clemmons of the nonprofit Animal Care and Control, which rescued Fred, predicted the kitten had a future in law enforcement.

“He’s going to be the detective for the animal world,” she said.

© 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Discussion comments


Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments