CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - A Garfield Heights judge suspended the jail sentence for a 78-year-old woman initially charged with feeding stray cats.
“Even though I love cats, I don’t want to have to get into any more trouble,” said Nancy Segula as she arrived at Garfield Heights Municipal Court on Tuesday morning.
She said the same thing previously, but continued feeding them. It led magistrate Jeffrey Short to sentence her to 10 days in county jail.
The sentence shocked many folks, but may have been just the shock Segula needed to stop the feeding frenzy.
The cats made neighboring yards unlivable.
Prosecutors showed Judge Jennifer Weiler 12 pictures of the conditions, including dead cats and some showing cats all over a neighbor’s patio and on top of her fire pit.
“We just want it to stop the situation. This ordinance was passed 30 years ago and this is the first time. It’s always worked. We cited somebody, we never had to threaten jail time or anything like that,” said Prosecutor Tim Riley.
“They have to deal with that odor and that debris and they don’t want to do that. Do you understand that?," Judge Wiler asked Segula.
"Yes I do,” was her response.
She listened to all sides, including Segula’s claim that she hadn’t fed cats for weeks; a claim the Judge didn’t buy.
“You’re not being honest with me, you’re not being honest with the animal warden, you’re not being honest with yourself. OK? You know what you’re doing,” Wiler chided.
Other than the smell and an over abundance of cats, Segula’s home is well kept. It is hard to call it a nuisance.
There is one change: A back deck now features a trap.
Since the case broke, animal rescue groups have gotten involved along with the city trapping 32 cats.
The judge held off the jail time after getting another promise that the feeding will stop.
“I will not do it. I will have nothing to do with it anymore,” Segula told 19 News after the hearing.
Segula was ordered to attend counseling for depression and make alterations to the exterior of her home.