79-year-old ‘cat lover’ sentenced to 10 days in jail for feeding strays: ‘I was worried about them’

A 79-year-old woman in Garfield Heights, Ohio has been sentenced to ten days in county jail under the county’s ordinance 505.23, which states: no person "shall provide food for cats and dogs other than those owned by that person by setting such food."

In layman's terms: a woman concerned about stray animals is now facing jail time.

Nancy Segula, a self-described "cat lover," says she initially started to feed cats outside of her home when a neighbor moved away and left their pets behind. Eventually, those cats arrived at Segula's doorstep looking for food and water.

"I would always feed them and take care of them because I was worried about them and I'm a cat lover,” Segula told WLWT. “And then, once my neighbors around here started being unhappy about it, then they called the animal warden."

She has received citations for her acts since 2017, and, according to Segula, she’s received four in all. However, her latest citation requested her appearance before Magistrate Jeffrey Short last week.

Magistrate Short sentenced Segula to ten days in the Cuyahoga County Jail for allegedly feeding her local cats.

For Segula's family, they don't believe the punishment justifies the crime, especially for an almost 80-year-old who was taking care of animals left behind.

“I couldn't believe my mom was telling me that, for what's she's doing out here, feeding some stray animals, she gets ten days in the county jail. I couldn't believe it," Dave Pawlowski, her son, said, adding that he worries about her safety. "I'm sure people hear about the things that happen downtown in that jail. Not a lot of good things at all and they are going to let my 79-year-old mother go there?"

“I understand my mother has broken a law repeatedly with this, and that is a law in Garfield Heights, but it should have been reviewed individually,” Pawlowski continued. “Why would you send a 79-year-old lady to jail for feeding cats?"

Segula is expected to report to jail on August 11. A petition has since been started for Segula requesting a lighter sentence.

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