71-year-old woman may go to jail for feeding stray cats

Gerri Dempsey

Gerri Dempsey, 71, is facing possible jail time for feeding stray cats, and says they'll die without her help but a new city ordinance says she must stop feeding them.

Dempsey spends $800 a month on pet food to feed the wild cats in her community. She says she has fed more than 38 colonies of feral cats over 15 years.

She's also dedicated much of her time to trapping, neutering, and releasing feral animals in neighborhoods around Conway.

That giving spirit may have gone too far though. She's facing possible jail time after a judge ordered her to stop feeding feral cats.

Dempsey has been to court three times before for previous tickets since a new Conway ordinance outlawed feeding feral animals in March.

"When I got there to feed the cats on the way to work, the police were waiting for me and they said 'do you know there's a new ordinance against feeding feral cats in Conway?' and I said, 'No I didn't know,' and they said 'Well there is.' And they gave me a ticket for 273 dollars that day," she said.

Her tickets range from a $273 fine for feeding feral populations to a $455 trespassing fine.

"I'm terrified. I would lose my job. I don't have anyone to take care of my animals," she says of going to jail.

The length of jail time is unknown at this point. We asked Conway police to comment on this story, but they declined an interview until after Dempsey's city court appearance Wednesday morning.