07/07/2015 03:08 EDT | Updated 07/07/2016 05:59 EDT

Ottavio Marchesan charged after cats found strangled

A 75-year-old Calgary man has been charged with animal cruelty after two cats were found strangled in a garbage bin.

Calgary police today charged Ottavio Marchesan with two counts of animal cruelty, alleging he choked up to three young cats and threw them into a dumpster in the 2800 block of 14th Avenue in the southeast neighbourhood of Radisson Heights.

A utility worker found them on Monday. Two had been strangled to death and a third survived, but fled when the worker tried to rescue it. Police are asking people in the area to check their properties for a black cat who is likely in medical distress.  

Along with the two dead cats, police found 15 rabbits living in the suspect's backyard in "deplorable" conditions, said Staff Sgt. Travis Baker.

Accused says he did nothing wrong

There were traps set out to catch the rabbits and conditions were filthy, police said. 

"My understanding is that this gentleman was raising the rabbits to eat and the rabbits were running rampant throughout the yard. My guess is the cats came in to chase the rabbits," said Baker.

Marchesan says he strangled the cats because he saw one killing a bird in his yard. He also doesn't think he has done anything wrong and he's upset that the rabbits have been seized. 

"I work for seven years to raise some bunny. There's a lot of guy that like to have rabbit stew," he said. "There are people that like to have it. Now they're going to be mad too because they cannot have any bunny."

Bakers said he understands that some people eat rabbits, "but it still strikes us as quite strange and definitely the violence against the cats is ... I don't know who would even think that is reasonable at all," said Baker. 

The Calgary Humane Society continues to investigate. Marchesan will be back in court on Aug. 20.