GARFIELD HEIGHTS, Ohio — A 79-year-old Garfield Heights woman who was originally sentenced to jail for feeding stray cats had her 10-day jail sentence suspended by a judge Tuesday.
Nancy Segula was sentenced last month for contempt of court after freely admitted that she continued to feed stray cats after being cited and convicted multiple times over the last few years for feeding cats outside her home, according to a Facebook post by the city.
At least three protesters were outside the courthouse Tuesday, demanding that Segula not be sent to jail for her actions.
The judge determined that Segula will serve no jail time, but must speak to a psychologist for her depression, which she has been dealing with since the death of her husband. The judge also ordered that Segula, once and for all, stop feeding that cats, and that she remove several pipes in her backyard where cats have been living. Her son-in-law told the judge he will take care of the pipes this weekend.
Garfield Heights and the city’s police department “received quite a bit of criticism” after the 10-day sentence was handed down last month.
The city posted a lengthy history of Segula’s history of feeding cats in violation of the city’s ordinance.
The city stated that feeding stray cats is a violation of City Ordinance 505.23. The violation of this ordinance often results in a large number of cats moving into an area and creating a nuisance for neighbors, which the city said happened in Segula’s case.
The complaints from other residents in the area against Segula date back to early 2015, the post states. The Animal Warden attempted to work with Segula at that time to clear the area of the stray cats, and she was advised of the city ordinance prohibiting feeding strays.
“Mrs. Segula was also made aware of her neighbors’ concerns, however, she continued to feed the cats,” the post states.
Segula was cited for feeding cats in June of 2015 and convicted a month later.
In May of 2017, she was cited for various charges related to feeding cats at her home. Two months later, she was convicted for having too many cats at her home and was placed on probation.
In August of 2017, Segula was cited for failing to properly dispose of animal waste in connection to the “numerous cats” at her home, and for continuing to feed the stray cats. City officials said waste was being found on her neighbors’ property. She was convicted of “failure to dispose” in November of that year and placed on a two-year probation.
One of the terms of her probation was that she was not permitted to feed stray cats, which she ignored,” city officials said.
At her May 2019 probation violation hearing, she was again advised not to feed stray cats, and her 10-day jail sentence was stayed, meaning it was suspended with the understanding that she would comply with the court order not to feed stray cats.
At a review hearing in July of this year, the Magistrate found she was still feeding stray cats, which she freely admitted. She was sentenced to 10 days in jail for contempt of court.
The Animal Warden has removed a total of 22 cats from Segula’s house over time; the cats were turned over to Forever Friends to be spayed or neutered and given appropriate medical attention.
“Our department and the City as a whole recognize that many are passionate about pets and animals in general,” city officials stated. “We are also aware that many do not feel the same way.”