Depending on where you live, there are usually restrictions surrounding pet ownership. For instance, where I live, it’s illegal to own more than four dogs per household if you’re within county limits, that is unless you obtain a kennel license. Although many of us might think that laws like these are absurd, there are usually very good reasons why they exist.
However, not all laws necessarily make sense. Even when they do, the consequences they result in might be what we deem harsh. Many believed that was the case with a 79-year-old woman, Nancy Segula from Garfield Heights, Ohio. Nancy continuously fed stray neighborhood cats out of the goodness of her heart. While she knew it was illegal in Garfield Heights, she received a punishment that many people thought was unfair.
It all started when Nancy’s neighbor moved away, leaving a couple of his pet cats behind. Seeing that the cats were now hungry strays, Nancy felt that it was her responsibility to feed them as if they were her own.
What Nancy thought was a kind act wasn’t considered as such by some of her neighbors. In fact, her neighbors reported her on multiple occasions, leaving her with a total of five citations from 2015 to 2017.
According to City Law Director Tim Riley, Nancy was then sentenced to two-years probation in 2017. Not only she was cited for having too many animals but for failing to pick up the feces the cats left on her neighbors’ lawns. Nancy initially agreed to stop feeding the cats.
“I would always feed them and care for them because I was worried about them, and I’m a cat lover. Once my neighbors got upset about it, they called the animal warden,” Nancy explains.
But Nancy continued to feed the strays.
After multiple complaints and probation time, Nancy received yet again another punishment in May of 2019: 10 days in jail. The jail time was suspended once Nancy agreed again that she would stop feeding the cats. Not long later, she received more citations, resulting in jail time once more, which was supposed to start August 11, 2019. Apart from the jail sentence, Nancy had 22 cats removed from her property who she was also feeding apart from her neighbor’s old cats.
“I’m sure people hear about the things that happen downtown in that jail. And they are going to let my 79-year-old mother go there?” says her son, Dave Pawlowski, in shock.
Nancy, too, has her own insight on the jail sentence: “It’s too much of a sentence for me for what I’m doing, when there are so many people out there that do bad things. Even though I love cats, I don’t want to have to get into any more trouble.”