78-Year-Old Tampa Woman Sued for Feeding Stray Cat

Whether or not you are a cat lover really doesn’t matter. The fact is that stray cats are typically an issue in every town and city around the globe. As sad as it is, people don’t seem to live up to their commitment as pet owners, and felines seem to be the victims. Add in the fact that these particular house pets are very independent creatures that love to explore and wander about. Many follow their nature and don’t return to the home that was once theirs, joining the ranks of those left behind and abandoned on the streets. These cats are the ones we call strays. On the other side of that coin are the people who simply cannot bear the thought of any animal going hungry. They can’t necessarily keep every kitty that comes around their door, but they have food, and they are more than willing to share it with a lucky one here or there. But the issue with this is that when you feed one, many seem to follow. As experience has taught us, when it comes to cats feeding them not only brings them back, but they bring friends when the come. This leads to issues when it comes to neighbors who are less than cat lovers, if you know what we mean.

One Cat Lover’s Story

These facts bring us to the true story of one cat lover who wanted to provide nourishment for a stray…or more…we’re not exactly sure of the number. Anyway, Tampa resident Joan P. Hussey, 78, is being sued for just that: Feeding stray cats. So, to give you some more details, Hussey is a condominium owner. Like gated neighborhoods, condominiums are typically kept nice, safe, and orderly by a group called a ‘homeowners association’, or a condo association. The members of such an association are condo or homeowners, and they meet to compile and enforce rules of conduct for homeowners or condo owners in a neighborhood or building. In the case of Joan Hussey, her ownership of a condo subjected her to the rules of her condo association, and their policy forbade the feeding of strays.

Hussey, needless to say, was feeding one cat, a girl named Chloe, according to her side of the story. The condo association is suing the woman for this, as per their rules and agreements made with the resident; the specifics of the suit do not mention an exact number of cats, or whether there are any other animals Hussey was feeding. Last year Hussey was brought up before the condo association board for arbitration, but she gave no response to the charges made against her. Now the association is requesting that a ruling be handed down regardless of the woman’s lack of response.

The suit was filed in early January, and it stated that the woman was ‘attracting and feeding stray cats and animals’ that were lingering around the Tampa Racquet Club Condominiums. One of the rules of the condo association there forbids the feeding or luring of stray animals of any kind. The suit goes on to say that ‘the continued presence of the stray cats may also induce unwanted health issues to those surrounding neighbors and/or tenants and could cause unwarranted damage to the Association’s common elements. Such a specific complaint points directly to rules already established by the Association, which has set them in place for a reason, of course.

The arbitration that was set last year was to take place with the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation. This specific type of complaint, according to law, must be handled by that particular department before it can move into court. Hussey, who stated that she did not respond to the arbitration because she did not understand the ‘attorney’s jargon’ in the paperwork she received, can now be ordered into court because of her lack of response.

Subsequent to these events, an order was sent to the woman directing her to stop feeding the stray (or strays) on their property immediately. Now the Association is demanding that the courts provide an injunction which orders that the feeding of the stray stops, and they also asked for it to be ordered that Hussey be responsible for attorney fees and costs. A circuit court judge, Emily Peacock, has been assigned to handle and rule on the case.

Hussey states that this has been a major cause of stress for her. She told the Tampa Bay Times the following: “I’m terribly surprised. I’ve had cats all my life, and I do it respectably. I go to bed at night and I can’t sleep thinking about this thing.” We can imagine that the issue has upset the older woman, but according to the court documents she was asked many times to stop feeding strays by the Association and continued to do so without regard.

What Are Your Thoughts?

So, there’s all the information…all of it that’s available, anyway. What do you think? Do you believe that actually taking the elderly woman to court is the thing to do, or is it just too much? Considering the fact that she was asked several times before the arbitration or the suit, we have to think that it’s only fair. Certainly, she read the rules set down by the association before she bought her condo and moved in. If she did, she’s to blame, and if she didn’t she’s even more to blame, technically speaking. People are often allergic to pet dander, and most certainly don’t like strays running all over the place. We think it’s reasonable, and since Hussey didn’t respond court is the obvious next step. Hopefully, the condo association and Ms. Hussey can work things out. Since condominiums are typically owned by the resident that resides within it’s important that rules be followed for the sake of all who dwell there. In our opinion, the best thing she could do is cooperate from here on out or sell her condo and relocate. Sure, she’s older, but rules are rules. What do you think?

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