Don’t Outlaw Feeding Stray Animals


Target: Jim Goldsworthy, Mayor of Gainesville, Texas

Goal: Strike down law forbidding citizens from feeding stray or feral animals.

A 76-year-old man recently spent nine days in jail for feeding stray cats on his property. David Parton of Gainesville, Texas was jailed after refusing to pay fines levied against him for leaving a bowl of food for feral cats wandering his neighborhood. Parton, who has been cited several times by the city for his small acts of compassion toward animals, believes the law to be unfair toward feral cats which already struggle to sustain themselves.

In the city of Gainesville, it is illegal to “place or make convenient food or containers of food on any property or city street for the purpose of feeding stray animals.” This means that even homeowners on their own property can be cited for feeding animals in need. The law is in place to discourage strays, which are considered “nuisance animals” by the city, from taking up permanent residence in the streets.

This law is not only overly restrictive toward residents, but ineffective at controlling the populations of stray and feral cats. Cats are territorial animals and are likely to roam familiar areas for their entire lives. This means they are likely to stay near a home they were thrown out of or, if they were born in the wild, in the area they grew up in. Not feeding these animals will not make them go away, but rather force them to eat rodents and discarded foods which can lead to parasites and disease.

This ridiculous law not only effects stray animals, but the kind humans that feed them. David Parton will not only continue to feed the cats despite possible legal ramifications, but will challenge the law in court with the help of a lawyer retained by animal rights group Alley Cats Allies. Sign the petition below to demand that the mayor repeal this ineffective ordinance.


Dear Mr. Jim Goldsworthy,

David Parton, a 76-year-old Gainesville resident, was recently jailed after refusing to pay fines accumulated for feeding stray cats on his property. In Gainesville, it is illegal to “place or make convenient food or containers of food on any property or city street for the purpose of feeding stray animals.”

This law is ineffective at reducing populations of stray animals, as they can resort to eating small animals and garbage. This diet, however, can result in parasites and actually increase the risk of the animals becoming diseased and posing a threat to humans.

Not only is the law harmful to the animals, but actually resulted in a kind elderly man being jailed like a common criminal. We, the undersigned, demand that this ridiculous law is repealed immediately.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Boski via Creative Commons

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  1. Valerie Nordberg says:

    Since when has “doing a good turn” been a crime?

  2. Why doesn’t the area have a trap neuter release program or a humane organization to trap them and re home them. Our country is quick to go after people but not so quick to put some money into animal programs or laws into place to punish people who mistreat or dump animals

  3. Karina macias says:

    Compassionate is not a crime!!!!!…. It is ridiculous unfair for this Good Samaritan to had spend 9 days in jail for a good thing!!!!… Have a heart for God sakes!

  4. Texas must be one hellava place for cruelty.Its reputation for otherwise is not apparent.

  5. Humans are animals, didn’t you know? As to what happened to that poor man: I can hardly believe it. Looks as though the Wild West were still alive and kicking… Something is rotten in the State of Texas!

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