Judge overturns 10 day jail sentence of woman who fed strays in contempt of court

Nancy Segula’s 10-day jail term handed down by a magistrate for contempt of court by persisting in feeding stray cats in violation of a court order has been overturned by Garfield Heights Municipal Court Judge Jennifer Weiler.

Nancy Segula, second from left, appears in front of Garfield Heights Municipal Court Judge Jennifer Weiler with her attorney, the city's dog warder, and the city's law director.

Nancy Segula, second from left, appears in front of Garfield Heights Municipal Court Judge Jennifer Weiler with her attorney, the city’s dog warder, and the city’s law director.

However, the judge said that Nancy will have to serve the jail term if she feeds the cats. She was also ordered to seek treatment for depression.

“This is not a wealthy city and they have had to spend a significant amount of time and money on one homeowner,” the judge said of the Cleveland suburb. “Nobody’s winning.”

The judge said that Nancy Segula had not been honest to her. As I understant it Segula said that she has not fed the cats for week which the judge did not believe. The judge also said that Segula does not feed the cats out of kindness for the neighbourhood.

Garfield Heights Law Director Tim Riley said in reference to Segula’s feeding of stray cats:

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“It created a nuisance and unsanitary issues..What it came down to was the quality of life for the neighbors. This ordinance was passed 30 years ago. I don’t recall anyone being sentenced to jail in the past.”

Segula said she was unaware of the ban on feeding stray cats and said:

“Now that I know that it (warden, organizations) does exist and I’m getting help from other groups, I feel so good about it..”


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In short, Nancy Segula is a 79-year-old woman who loves cats and lives in Garfield Heights, Ohio (Cleveland suburb). She used to feed stray cats and had a number of cats in her home. She felt compelled to feed them out of kindness and because they needed feeding.

However, under a local ordinance it is illegal to feed stray cats where she lives. She was ordered to stop. She disobeyed the court orders and finally the court punished her with contempt of court to 10 days in jail. Her cats were taken from her and the strays trapped. A local rescue organisation helped. There was outrage at the sentence and the judge in this hearing decided to take a more humane course of action and has overturned the sentence on strict conditions. Segula has promised to stop feeding the cats.

Let’s see if she can stick to her word. She wants to help cats and finds it incredible hard to not feed them. She may well end up in jail yet.

The Real Problem

The real problem is not Nancy Segula. The real problem is irresponsible cat ownership allowing the procreation of unwanted cats. Nancy just responds decently to that condition. You can’t stop people being kind to animals with court orders and jail time. They just don’t go together. This is a failure of society not of Nancy Segula. The Garfield Heights law is problematic. Not many cities or counties in the US have such a law because it is barely workable. I don’t think it is sensible to ban feeding feral cats by law. It creates this sort of conflict.

Useful tag. Click to see the articles: Cat behavior

Note: sources for news articles are carefully selected but the news is often not independently verified.

Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 74-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare. If you want to read more click here.

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