This is the story of a Missouri mother who recently went to jail over the family cat. Andrea Boenker, a resident of Wentzville, was arrested recently, all because her then 2-year-old daughter let the new family cat out of the house. For those of you unfamiliar with the area, Wentzville is a city located in western St. Charles County and has a population of around 30,000.
Andrea is the mother of two daughters and a nurse. Her story began last summer when the family got a new cat. Thriller, a black and white beauty, was let out of the house by Andrea’s daughter Morgan , who was only two at the time. Thriller ended up at the local shelter. Andrea went down to the shelter, where she paid the fines to the shelter and the city to bail Thriller out of kitty jail. She thought that was the end of things.
Andrea recently got the shock of her life when she came home from work and her husband told her two police officer’s had come to their home with a warrant for her arrest. There was an outstanding animal at large ticket, which is given when someone violates a leash law. Many areas now consider cats running free illegal, and not only pertaining to dogs. So Andrea went down to the local police station to clear things up about their cat. The doors locked behind her when she went inside the station, and Andrea was informed she was under arrest.
The problem started when Andrea says a clerk and an alderman told her she wouldn’t have to go to court if she paid the fines. Apparently the information given Andrea was unreliable, and Andrea missed the court date because she was told she didn’t have to show up. She admits receiving the notice to appear, but disregarded it. The warrant the officer’s had come to serve was a “failure to appear,” meaning she had failed to show up for court, which automatically puts you on the bench warrant roster. Sometimes it takes awhile to be served, due to there being so many people out there committing small crimes that police don’t have the manpower to deliver warrants in a timely manner for minor offenses.
Andrea was in jail for less than three hours, but she wants to warn others out there of how little it takes to get locked up these days. KSDK5 News spoke with the mayor of Wentzville, who admitted there are problems with cats being on the animal ordinance. He said the board of alderman will be discussing kinks in the system in the near future.
Meanwhile, Andrea now has a criminal record. If she’s never been in trouble with the law before, she can likely get it expunged by a circuit court judge. I wanted to do this article because so many cat lovers who reside outside the United States don’t realize some of the lame laws we have to put up with. It’s illegal to allow a cat outside unsupervised in many areas. Cat owners who live within city limits usually have more strict rules than those living in a country environment. I wanted to share Andrea’s story so no more cat ladies have to spend time in jail over an escaped cat. If you ever get a citation for animal at large, be sure you know what you’re required to do, and be sure that information comes from a dependable source.
I’m curious what the readers here think of this, especially those living outside the U.S.