A dog and a cat both fell to their deaths from the same 43rd-story balcony of a high-rise apartment building, just three days apart, reports The Huffington Post. After an investigation, Chicago police now believe the deaths were accidental.
The apartment's tenant owned Oak the kitten, while Duke the dog belonged to the tenant's mother, stepfather, and sister, who were visiting from out of town.
Police initially looked into the pets' high-rise plummets as possible animal cruelty cases; officers "threatened to arrest me," the tenant told the Chicago Sun-Times. No charges have been filed, however.
So how does the tenant explain what happened?
The tenant, who identified himself as Ryan, claims the kitten must've been "freaked out" by the sight of the dog "and kind of jumped" off the balcony on Sunday.
As for the dog's death on Wednesday, Ryan says he'd left some chairs on the balcony, which unintentionally created a ladder that the dog jumped off of.
Luckily for Ryan, police apparently believe his story. Had they not, Ryan may have faced possible fines and even jail time if convicted under Illinois' animal cruelty laws -- ranked the strongest in the nation, according to the Animal Legal Defense Fund. (Some other states may want to take note.)
Animal Cruelty Defined
Under Illinois law, cruel treatment of animals occurs when any person beats, cruelly treats, torments, starves, overworks or otherwise abuses any animal. Also, an owner cannot abandon an animal where it may become a public charge or may suffer injury, hunger, or exposure.
Illinois law also spells out strict penalties for animal cruelty. A first offense can be punished by jail time and up to a $1,500 fine. If the cruelty rises to the level of a felony, then up to five years in prison and a $25,000 fine are possible under the law.
But as it appears the two pets did not die as a result of Ryan's intentional behavior, police likely concluded there was no cruel treatment.