Annette Betancourt convicted of running a cat house

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The feral cat debate rages in Liberty.
  • Flickr: Matt Mangum
  • The feral cat debate rages in Liberty.
Annette Betancourt just saw her yard in Liberty as a place where feral cats could get off the streets, clean themselves up a bit and sort our their lives. The Liberty police didn't agree with her. And yesterday a Clay County jury wasn't swayed by her arguments, convicting her of violating a city ordinance that limits Liberty residents to owning four cats or dogs at a time.

Betancourt contended that she was trapping feral cats to have them neutered or spayed before releasing them (what animal advocates refer to as trap-neuter-return) in an effort to keep the pet population down. Neighbors didn't see it that way, calling police to complain about the cats on Betancourt's property. She was cited for creating a public nuisance in October 2011, choosing to fight the charges in court.

Betancourt's sentencing hearing is today. She could receive 90 days in jail or a fine of up to $500, or the jury could suggest that she serve time and pay a fine.

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