One of the beautiful stray kitties Nancy was feeding. Screen capture by WKYC via YouTube

This Elderly Woman Faced Jail Time for Feeding Stray Cats

An elderly woman in Ohio faced some serious repercussions in the form of time behind bars for something many of us do without giving it much thought. However, at the last second, someone stepped in on Nancy’s behalf — would it work to keep her out of jail?

Cat lover

For all of her 79 years, Nancy Segula has loved cats and when her husband and two beloved cats died, she was lonely. Then a group of stray kitties began showing up on the back porch of the Ohio home she and her husband shared for 30 years. She was happy to feed them. They kept her company and filled out her days and she knew she was doing something that helped the cats.

Cats need love and kindness
This adorable kitten was lucky enough to be placed in a foster home. So many kittens aren’t so fortunate. Photo by praline3001 license NC ND 2.0 via Flickr

At first, six to eight adult cats were showing up for the feedings but soon there were also kittens. Segula was providing them with food and water because she cared about their wellbeing, LittleThings reports. In return, they provided her with a little bit of happiness and she continued feeding them for four years.

Cats cured her loneliness

“I miss my own kitties, they passed away, my husband passed away,” she told a local paper. “I’m lonely, so the cats and kitties outside helped me.”

After losing her beloved kitties feeding the outdoor cats comforted her. Screen capture by WKYC Channel 3 via YouTube

“It began in 2017 with me feeding stray kitties,” Nancy said. “I used to have a neighbor that had a couple cats and he moved away, so he left them,” Nancy told news station Fox 8. “I would always feed them and care for them because I was worried about them and I’m a cat lover.”

Unfortunately, poor Nancy ran afoul of her neighbors and the law. She says she contacted local shelters to see if they could help her but nothing came of that.

One of the cats Nancy was helping. Screen capture by WKYC Channel 3 via YouTube

Then the neighbors got angry and called the animal warden.

Nancy was in trouble with her neighbors and the law

She was in violation of a local city ordinance that classifies the movement of a large number of animals to an area as a public nuisance, Reason notes. Over a period of four years, animal control removed 22 cats from her property as the neighbors complained. Nancy received her first citation in 2017 and she paid four more fines after that.

Her crime? Feeding stray cats
Nancy Segula appears before municipal court judge Jennifer Weiler Screen capture by WYKC Channel 3 via YouTube

But then something happened that Nancy and her family really didn’t expect: She was sentenced to 10 days in jail by a city magistrate, HuffPost reports.

Nancy’s sentencing received massive backlash from the public and it wasn’t long before it was picked up by public news outlets.

Fortunately, in the meantime, a different city official — kind-hearted municipal court judge Jennifer Weiler stepped in last week and suspended Nancy’s sentence. Weiler was off work when another judge sentenced Nancy previously.

Weiler asked the elderly woman why she continually violated her court orders. She responded that it was because of her compassion for cats and she “just felt bad” when the hungry animals would wind up on her porch.

Nancy received a strict warning

Nancy now has to remove the shelters she has in place for the cats. Additionally, Weiler warned her once again, that if she feeds the cats she definitely will be doing time.

Perhaps feeling a bit bruised by the public outcry, the Garfield Heights Police Department posted its response on Facebook. The department stated she had violated a number of court orders to stop the feedings. And the post noted the warden had removed 22 cats from her property and sent them to Forever Friends, a local animal rescue organization.

“The concern’s been all the cat feces, the urine smell, dead cats that have been found,” animal warden Bonnie Hackett told Fox 8.

And for anyone wondering why Forever Friends didn’t simply trap, neuter, and return the cats, well that’s also illegal in Garfield Heights.

This kind woman and her cats are getting help

There’s also a bit of good news, especially for Nancy, because she’ll be able to keep one of the kitties. A warm, purring friend by her side should help her be less lonely.

On their Facebook page the Forever Friends Foundation noted:

“Nancy Segula has had all charges dropped! We have 2 more we are trying to catch. Mrs. Segula is adopting one of them.”

This kind elderly woman very nearly was punished for doing things most of us would do, but now all of her kitties are going to good homes. So maybe for her and all the cats she helped, this is the ultimate win/win situation.

Featured photo courtesy of the video above

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