A resident of Cleveland, Ohio has finally been put behind bars for repeatedly flouting the city’s stray animal laws. But at 79 years old, is the woman’s custodial sentence unnecessarily harsh?
By, 2 Aug 2019
Nancy Segula has been feeding stray cats since 2015. In the beginning Ms Segula’s generosity attracted only one or two strays but numbers soon grew, and the growth of the clowder eventually became too much for some of Segula’s neighbours.
In July of 2015 Segula was booked for a breach of the city’s law prohibiting residents’ from feeding stray animals.
Since then, Segula has flouted the law and breached three further orders. In 2017, writes the BBC, Segula was “cited for various charges related to feeding cats at her residence", “convicted of having too many cats on her property” and “cited for failing to dispose of animal waste”.
At a probationary hearing in May of this year Segula was handed a 10-day prison sentence which the judge “stayed” with the condition that the septuagenarian ceased her feeding the cats. However, at a review hearing last week the judge presiding at Cuyahoga County Jail discovered the woman had not kept to her word.
The magistrate considered Segula to be in contempt of court and handed her a 10-day jail sentence.
Ms Segula’s son, Dave Pawlowski said of the sentence, “I couldn't believe what my mother was telling me. She gets 10 days in the county jail, I couldn't believe it.
“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?”
In a Facebook statement Garfield Heights Police Department acknowledged the sensitivity of the case.
On July 30th a spokesperson for the department wrote: “The Mayor, the Garfield Heights Police Department and the City of Garfield Heights as a whole have received quite a bit of criticism after hearing that a 79-year-old female was sentenced to jail for feeding stray cats.
“Mrs. Segula has never been arrested by the Police Department or the Animal Warden, she has been cited and summoned into court to respond to the numerous city ordinance violations and probation violations. The Animal Warden simply presented the facts of the case in court and the Magistrate issued his decision(s)/sentence.”