By Chris Oberholtz,
By Heather Staggers,
By DeAnn Smith
A Clay County jury Monday afternoon found Annette Betancourt guilty of harboring feral cats.
"I'm very upset," said Betancourt. "I wished they'd understood what I'm doing is a good thing for the community. I'm preventing more homeless cats being born. I'm fixing them with my own money and providing a service to my neighbors too. Apparently the jury didn't see it that way."
Betancourt said she was being compassionate and using a program known as trap, neuter and release. Betancourt said the cats do not belong to her, and she is just helping out the cats and her community.
A neighbor of Betancourt's told jurors that Betancourt's feeding of the cats brings more cats to the neighborhood, saying up to a dozen feral cats can be seen lurking on the dead-end street daily.
But Betancourt said her home is close to a wooded area where many feral cats live. She feeds them and pays for them to be neutered but says she does not own the cats.
According to Liberty ordinances, residents are not allowed to feed or shelter an animal at the same location for three or more days, and are allowed four dogs or cats.
Many showed up Monday, some of whom have never met Betancourt, to show their support for trap-neuter-release. Supporters said they are worried that this will have a chilling effect on those who use the program..." More & video