Cat shelter owner fears shutdown

Published 11:28 am Friday, November 2, 2012

The owner of Cats Off Broadway, charged with having too many cats in a residential area, says authorities have again cited her.

Mary Draayer, director of Cats Off Broadway shelter, is downsizing the shelter after a misdemeanor charge for having too many cats. - Amanda Lillie/

Mary Draayer, who runs Cats Off Broadway at 605 21st Ave. NW, said she received another citation in the mail several weeks ago. Draayer was charged in January with a misdemeanor for having more than 30 cats. While Draayer said she has since found homes for many of them and is down to 10 adult cats and 10 kittens, the city ordinance only allows homeowners to have a maximum of three cats. Draayer pleaded not guilty in January, and her application for a public defender was denied in Mower County Court because of her income.

“That’s just plain ridiculous,” she said. “I live on Social Security.”

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Austin Police Chief Brian Krueger said if Draayer is ordered to get rid of the cats, a community service officer will confiscate them, put them in the city pound and try to find people to adopt them, so the pound won’t have to euthanize them.

“Unfortunately, if nobody does, at some point, we would have to put them down,” he said.

Draayer has a hearing on Nov. 16. She has not yet been charged in Mower County Court for her second citation.

Draayer added she has not taken in any more cats this year, except for orphaned kittens. Animals younger than 90 days, however, do not count toward the city ordinance.

“Our numbers have been cut in half since then,” Draayer said. “I don’t think anybody is giving me credit for that.”

If Draayer is convicted of the misdemeanor, the judge could order her to get rid of the cats immediately or allow her as much as one year’s time to find homes, according to Tom Baudler, a city attorney. Draayer said all of her cats have proper vaccinations; she charges an adoption fee to cover her input costs.

Draayer has been looking for a building where she could house the cats. A shelter must be at least 500 feet from residential areas; however, Draayer said Cats Off Broadway doesn’t have the funds for a building. She hopes someone will donate space for her or offer other arrangements.

“The thing is, I’m still a legitimate pet rescue just like the Humane Society,” Draayer said, and added moving out of town is not an option.

Draayer fears authorities may soon come into her home and take the cats, even though her case is still open in court. She also fears she may serve jail time and pay a fine, as the maximum penalty for her charge is 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine if convicted. Local attorney Dan Donnelly has chosen to defend Draayer in court. He expects to receive more information about her most recent citation in about a week.