Gainesville, Texas – 76-year-old David Parton was thrown in jail last week for illegally feeding stray cats.
Just this week, Parton was released from the Cooke County Correctional Center after spending nine days in jail for refusing to pay the $900 fine that came along with feeding the cats.
Parton has been feeding stray cats in his area for over ten years. However his local government would rather have the cats starve, so they have given him numerous fines for breaking a city ordinance against feeding stray animals. Parton has refused to pay the fines because he understandably believes that they are ridiculous and unjust.
“God told me to keep feeding them and leave the consequences to Him,” Parton told CBS 11 News.
When asked if he would pay the fines if he had the money, Parton said, “Oh, no, if I had a million dollars I wouldn’t have paid it Hell, no. No! And I told them I’d sit it out in jail. I did, that’s why I went to jail, I wouldn’t pay the fine. That law is not right,” he said.
There were five different locations throughout the city where Parton was feeding cats, and while he was in jail the police went through and boarded up the areas so the cats would not return.
“It seems really severe that someone would spend any time in jail at all for doing something that was compassionate. There aren’t any ordinances that actually help the animals. It seems like they’re all out there to punish people for them (animals),” Eric Erlandson of the animal advocacy group Alley Cat Allies said in a statement.
Mayor Jim Goldsworthy has argued that the laws against feeding strays are necessary to keep the number of stray cats down.
“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. 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,” Goldsworthy said.
Alley Cat Allies is currently fighting against the legislation that put Parton in jail, and they are offering him help with his legal battle as well.
“This is a truly disheartening miscarriage of justice. Compassion should not be criminalized, but that is exactly what this man was arrested for—simply providing food for cats. We are proud to offer any assistance to this gentleman who provides a service to the cats and Gainesville,” Becky Robinson, president and founder of Alley Cat Allies said.
“What Gainesville needs is a Trap-Neuter-Return program that will provide neutering and vaccination for the city’s community cats. Locking up innocent people for being compassionate to cats doesn’t help anyone. It’s counterproductive and does nothing to help decrease the community cat population. Only Trap-Neuter-Return can do that,” Robinson added.