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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A Welcome Diversion: Renowned Dog-Cat-Rat Man Heads for Drug Treatment

Posted By on Tue, Dec 16, 2008 at 6:30 AM

By Peter Jamison

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It ain't easy strolling through Baghdad by the Bay with three species of pets stacked atop one another. Just ask Gregory Pike, who has famously trained a rat to stand on top of a cat standing on top of a dog. His outrageously cute animal act has made him a star on YouTube and served him well as a panhandler. (For a video, click here.)

But while the dollar bills from tourists at Union Square are still coming fast, Pike is feeling less love these days from the law. On Halloween, police arrested the "Dog-Cat-Rat Man" on a charge of felony crack possession. What's a playa to do? Pike's answer: Get out of the courtroom and into rehab.

On Dec. 3, the District Attorney's office agreed to refer Pike to a pretrial diversion program designed to unclog the courtrooms by sending nonviolent offenders into drug treatment. A follow-up hearing to determine Pike's eligibility for diversion is scheduled for Dec. 18. Deputy Public Defender Randall Martin, who is acting as Pike's attorney, said the charge against the street performer will be dropped if he completes the program.

All in all, things could be worse for the 45-year-old Pike, who -- despite being homeless -- totes a cell-phone and portable DVD player and claims to bring in about $100 a day from gaga passersby. He still denies using crack, but told SF Weekly he hopes agreeing to drug treatment will make his legal troubles go away. "Let's do this the easy way," he said.

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But not all the news is good. San Francisco Superior Court Judge Tomar Mason had ordered Pike's dog, cat and rat -- Booger, Kitty and Mousey -- to appear with him in court on Dec. 18. (Mason had allowed the animals into court at a previous hearing on Dec. 3. Who says the bench isn't entitled to a diversion once in a while?) But Martin told SF Weekly that the San Francisco Sheriff's Department has objected, asserting that only "service animals" can be allowed into the Hall of Justice on Bryant Street.

Pike said the sheriff's department is mistaken. "I have paperwork on the way showing that the dog, cat and any rat I have in hand are service animals," Pike said. (For example, he argues that the trio brings relief to senior citizens during visits to group homes.) But Pike said he's found a babysitter for the animal stack, and doesn't intend to wrangle further with the law. For one thing, he said, he's weary of the limelight. "Anything that happens to me makes world news," Pike said.

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Peter Jamison

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