A 79-year-old woman has been sentenced to 10 days in jail for repeatedly feeding stray cats on her property.
Nancy Segula, who lives in suburban Cleveland, Ohio, has been feeding a group of stray cats since 2015, after they were apparently left behind by a neighbour who moved away.
However, after numerous complaints from other residents in the area, authorities reminded Nancy feeding stray cats in Ohio is illegal, and if she continued to do so she could face imprisonment.
After multiple violations of the city’s ordinance, Nancy is now facing a stretch behind bars after the court found she had been cited at least four times since 2015 for feeding stray cats.
Nancy, however, says she continued to feed the cats because they became a source of comfort to her when she lost her husband in 2017.
She told cleveland.com
There’s been about six to eight adult cats and now there’s kittens coming over, too. I miss my own kitties. They passed away; my husband passed away. I’m lonely. So the cats and kitties outside help me.
After her previous citations, a judge could decide to uphold the 10-day jail sentence on the 79-year-old.
Despite continuing to feed the cats after her first few citations, Nancy now says she realises the seriousness of her situation.
I love cats; I have for a long time. But there is a point where I have to think about myself. I don’t want to get into any more trouble than I’m already in.
Municipal Court Judge Jennifer Weiler is said to be reviewing Nancy’s case on Tuesday, August 6, this week.
According to reports, at least four of the stray cats have been rescued and taken to the Public Animal Welfare Society of Ohio, which is currently working to find homes for the cats.
Nancy said she’s relieved the cats are being looked after:
The fact they’re being taken care of makes me feel good. That’s better for them.
Nancy said she didn’t realise the city prohibited feeding stray cats until the city’s animal warden informed her she had been violating the rule.
According to a press release from the City of Garfield Heights, the animal warden received ‘numerous complaints regarding the issue from other residents in the area’.
Once aware of the issue, the Animal Warden attempted to work with Mrs. Segula to humanely clear the area of the cats and advised her of the city ordinance prohibiting feeding strays. Mrs. Segula was also made aware of her neighbors’ concerns, however, she continued to feed the cats.
It is important to note that at her May, 2019 probation violation hearing, she was again advised not to feed stray cats and her 10-day sentence was “stayed,” meaning it was suspended with the understanding that she would comply with the court order. At the review hearing last week, the Magistrate found that she was still feeding stray cats, which she freely admitted, and sentenced her to 10 days for “contempt of court.”
Mrs. Segula has never been arrested by the Police Department or the Animal Warden, she has been cited and summoned into court to respond to the numerous city ordinance violations and probation violations.
The 79-year-old has been told to appear at Cuyahoga County Jail later this month.
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Charlie Cocksedge is a journalist at UNILAD. He graduated from the University of Manchester with an MA in Creative Writing, where he learnt how to write in the third person, before getting his NCTJ. His work has also appeared in such places as The Guardian, PN Review and the bin.