David Parton, 76, spent nine days in jail after refusing to pay a $900 fine for feeding stray cats in Gainesville, Texas.
A city law makes it illegal to “make convenient food or containers of food on any property or city street in the City of Gainesville for the purpose of feeding stray animals,” but Parton told CBS DFW he wouldn’t pay the fines he incurred even if he “had a million dollars.”
“God told me to keep feeding them and leave the consequences to Him,” Parton said.
Parton is worried about the nine cats he was feeding — he hasn’t seen them since he was released from the Cooke County Correctional Center.
Animal rights group Alley Cats Allies has taken up Parton’s cause and hired the law firm of Tatum, Erlandson & Neu to write a new code for the city.
"It seems really severe that someone would spend any time in jail at all for doing something that was compassionate,” Eric Erlandson said. “There aren’t any ordinances that actually help the animals. It seems like they’re all out there to punish people for them (animals).”
The city says it’s working with animal lobby groups, but it has a responsibility to protected citizens from stray, unvaccinated cats.
“Because when we feed these animals in stray-type situations, not only are we promoting those populations of cats and dogs but we’re attracting skunks and raccoons and possums and all the other critters that come with that,” Mayor Jim Goldsworthy said. “We’ve got a relatively large wild cat or feral cat population; the feeding of the cats from someone who comes into town and feeds cats at random locations is breeding into an explosion in population.”
Parton won’t change his behavior and feels called to his feline-friendly purpose. “So my responsibility was simply to do what God said: Keep feeding them.”