Attorney helps make it a happy ending for felines

Published 11:28 am Monday, December 17, 2012

Mary Draayer, who runs Cats Off Broadway, sits with her cat Windy. Draayer says Windy and her sister, Poupon, are both up for adoption. — Matt Peterson/

With some unconventional help from her attorney, Mary Draayer, owner of Cats Off Broadway, has avoided charges for housing too many cats in a residential area.

In turn, that attorney, Dan Donnelly, may be able to solve the mouse problem at his rural home. Donnelly adopted two of the many cats that held Draayer over the city’s legal limit of three cats, a move in part for his client and in part for his family.

“It worked out for both of us,” Donnelly said.

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For the past 13 months, Draayer argued to keep her cats, of which she had more than 30 at one point. Draayer ran her house as a shelter and allowed people to drop off stray cats. Several months ago, Draayer said she drastically reduced that number. And recently, she was able to adopt out several of them at Northbridge Mall in Albert Lea while finding foster homes for others in the area. Draayer hopes two remaining cats will be adopted within days.

A Mower County District Court judge offered Draayer a continued sentence on Friday: If Draayer does not violate the ordinance within six months, she will not be convicted of the misdemeanor.

Draayer was clearly happy about that on Friday, as she has no criminal record. And she hoped to keep it that way with something that Donnelly calls a not-so-criminal case.

“You get a good feeling from a case like this,” Donnelly said. “This is not your hardened criminal.”

Donnelly praised the prosecutor, judge and Austin police for the way they handled the case.

Draayer was grateful for Donnelly’s help.

“I was actually amazed when he came the other night,” Draayer said about when Donnelly picked up the last two cats.

Draayer was mostly smiles on Friday, but to her, the outcome is more of a compromise. She still wants to help others with their cats and find homes for strays.

“I am not going to be taking any adult cats,” Draayer said. “But if people come to me for help, I will still give them help.”

Draayer still disagrees with the city ordinance and plans to go to Monday night’s Austin City Council meeting and speak during the public comment session.

“I think it stinks because I am doing good here,” Draayer said. “I am not a cat hoarder.”

In the meantime, Draayer and others are still looking for suitable shelter space. But like before, she is still struggling to find a location and assistance with funding.

“We are still trying to locate a building that we can utilize for the cats,” Draayer said.

Draayer said people may still contact her about help finding homes for cats, and she encourages others to spay or neuter their pets and notify officers about strays.