Nancy Segula lives in Garfield Heights, Ohio. In 2017 she lost her husband. Around the same time, her neighbors moved and left their outdoor cats behind. Segula began feeding the cats saying she felt bad for them and also enjoyed the company. She told local news that she had reached out to local organizations for help with the cats without any success.

A neighbor called the local animal warden who issued the first citation and placed on probation for violating a city ordinance which prohibits the feeding of stray cats. Three citations later and Segula was handed a 10 day sentence in county lock up.

Garfield Heights Municipal Court Judge Jennifer Weiler was out when Segula was sentenced and indicated she “wants to hear the case herself because of the controversy that has surrounded the outcome,” reports

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A Garfield Heights ordinance prohibits residents from feeding cats and dogs other than any animals they own, the ordinance says. The ordinance says that residents are encouraged to not set food outside of their home. It’s considered a minor misdemeanor.

Opinions differ on whether feeding stray cats is a good thing or a bad thing. City council and other elected and appointed officials in Garfield Heights declined to discuss the issues surrounding Segula’s case or what prompted the city to pass the ordinance.

The Humane Society of the United States noted in a July 2016 article that while feeding feral and outdoor cats might seem harmful, doing so without spaying or neutering of cats can lead to exploding colony populations which could lead to more and more malnourished animals. There are humane ways to deal with wandering stray cats.

“There’s been about six to eight adult cats and now there’s kittens coming over, too,” Segula told Tuesday. “I miss my own kitties, they passed away, my husband passed away. I’m lonely. So the cats and kitties outside help me.”

The sentence last week by Short marks the fourth time the feeding of stray cats saw Segula stand in court. She thinks the jail sentence is excessive, but admits that she continued to feed the cats despite getting more than $2,000 fines from the municipal court.

A petition has been started demanding “Segula be given a lighter sentence and be allowed to stay home, and end ordinance 505.23 right now!” At the time this post was published 179 people had signed the petition.

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