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76-year-old man spends nine days in jail for feeding stray cats

David Parton, 76, of Texas, spent nine days

David Parton, 76, of Texas, spent nine days in a Gainesville jail for violating a city ordinance against feeding stray animals. Credit: Alley Cat Allies

He refused to pay the fine for feeding feral felines.

A 76-year-old man elected to spend nine days in a Gainesville, Texas, jail for feeding vagrant cats rather than pay the reported $900 he had been ticketed for the deed.

“God told me to keep feeding ‘em and leave the consequences to him,” David Parton told an area CBS affiliate. “So my responsibility was simply to do what God said: Keep feeding ‘em.”

Citing concerns such as rabies, property damage and attracting other, less desirable, creatures, Gainesville has banned feeding strays.

The code of ordinances states in Section 3-14 that it is unlawful “to place or 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 that didn’t stop Parton.

“I wasn’t gonna let the cat go to bed on an empty stomach, because they were hungry and nobody else cared,” Parton said in a video posted on the website for Alley Cat Allies, a cat advocacy organization currently working to overturn the Gainesville feeding ban.

“If I didn’t [feed them], they would starve to death, literally,” Parton said. “That’s how I found them: hungry.”

Parton was ticketed multiple times for his actions, until, finally he was given a choice: pay up or get locked up.

“Oh, no. If I had a million dollars I wouldn’t have paid it,” Parton told CBS. “Hell, no. No.”

Parton was arrested on Feb. 2 and spent nine days in jail — one day for every $100 he owed, according to the CBS report.

Gainesville Chief of Police Kevin Phillips told KXII-TV News 12 that the city tried to avoid jailing Parton.

“I think everyone involved in this process had tried to be as compassionate as possible,” Phillips said. “Our prosecutor met with him on two separate occasions, trying to work with him. Really all we’re looking for is compliance.”

Compliance ended up coming in the form of Parton serving his sentence for the mouser misdemeanor.

“And I told them I’d sit it out in jail, I did, that’s why I went to jail,” he told CBS. “I wouldn’t pay the fine. Because it’s wrong. That law is not right.”

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