Augusta couple wins appeal in case involving feral cats
A verdict was reached in the appeal of an Augusta couple found guilty of feeding and watering feral cats in the city. A jury found them not guilty on all counts.
We caught up with the Joneses in their store in Augusta Thursday afternoon. Spend a few minutes inside their store in Downtown and one thing is immediately clear - they like cats.
"I do like cats," says Sue. "I like all animals, but I like cats."
It's that passion for animals that led to the nearly year-long ordeal with the city after they were found guilty of violating ordinances by providing water to feral cats.
"There's nothing in the Augusta city ordinances that prohibit giving water to animals"
The Joneses say they only provided water, but others in the neighborhood were laying out food for the cats. Still, it was Sue and Ray who were charged and found guilty of creating a nuisance and allowing animals to run at large.
"In order to substantiate those charges, the prosecution needed to prove that we owned animals. Well, people don't own feral cats," says Sue.
"We decided, we're going to appeal this. It's not fair - this isn't right," says Ray.
After a year-long appeals process, and a couple of days in court, the verdict came quickly.
"They couldn't prove that we had violated the ordinances," Ray says. "The jury only took about fifteen minutes to decide not guilty. For my attorney, he said that's a new record for him."
With the legal fight behind them, they now plan to push for policy change in the city.
"Our next challenge will be to try and convince the city to change their policy to provide a trap, neuter, vaccinate return policy so that the feral cats can be taken care of properly - and we can start managing the population."
An Augusta couple
filed an appeal in the case.
Sue and Ray Jones were found guilty of feeding and giving water to feral cats in Augusta.
They were both found guilty of creating a nuisance and allowing cats to run at large.
A judge ordered them to pay a fine of $150 per person for each count they are guilty.
Their daughter, Kate Roggenbaum, called the charges ridiculous.
"I've heard from a lot of people all over the country that say...they've never heard of anything like this," said Roggenbaum. "One comment was this must be fake news."
Roggenbaum said it's not fair because her parents felt like it was the right thing to do.
"I think that there are far more important things going on in the world today, and I think that the humane treatment of animals is not criminal and should not be criminalized," said Roggenbaum.
Valero's manager, Amber Goff, said she noticed cat food and water left near dumpsters at the gas station.
"It's not a problem to us though other than them leaving their trash," said Goff.
She said she doesn't consider it a nuisance, but she would like to see the bowls cleaned up rather than left on the ground.
"I don't think they should get in trouble for feeding a cat necessarily, but be responsible about it," said Goff.
Across the street, the NAPA manager said he complained multiple times about the cats to animal control.
He said skunks ate cat food thrown on the ground, sprayed the cats and made the area stink.
Roggenbaum said people feed cats all the time and don't get charged for it.
Roggenbaum said she created a Go Fund Me page for her parents, and she has raised more than $1,500 to go toward fines and fees.
The city manager said the city can't comment on it.