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

Cat lady contests Austin police

Published 9:52am Friday, November 2, 2012

AUSTIN — The owner of Cats Off Broadway, charged with having too many cats in a residential area, says authorities have again cited her regarding the same issue in Austin.

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. The city ordinance allows homeowners to have a maximum of three cats. Draayer pleaded not guilty in January, and her application for a public defender was recently denied in Mower County District Court because of her income.

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

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

Draayer said since January she has found homes for many cats and has reduced numbers to 10 adult cats and 10 kittens. 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.

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 find people to adopt them.

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

In the meantime, 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 may not 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.