Federal laws to determine local cat case

Published 10:00 pm Monday, June 18, 2018

Whether a Hartland woman will have to limit her cats from 10 to two to comply with city laws will hinge on whether any state or federal laws give exceptions for emotional support animals, a Freeborn County District Court judge said Monday.

Hartland resident Kim Jameson, who is facing litigation from the city of Hartland for not following an agreement regarding her cats, appeared before Judge Ross Leuning on Monday.

Email newsletter signup

Hartland city law allows for two cats, but the city essentially grandfathered her in if she followed other guidelines.

The city said she has not followed two parts of the agreement and motioned for summary judgment against Jameson in the case. Daniel Kolker, the lawyer representing the city, said Jameson has not put up a cat-proof fence or instead opted to keep her cats inside, and second, she has not stopped feeding other cats in the community.

Jameson, who is representing herself in the case, claimed she had tried to put up a fence but was denied the permit from the city and was also met with problems when she tried to license the cats. She said she has scaled back feeding cats except for a few people who have asked her to do so.

She filed her response to the motion on Friday, which Leuning described as a 45-page handwritten document.

Leuning questioned Jameson for submitting the response so close to the hearing date, saying it gave minimal time to review the document. The motion was filed in May.

Kolker said law required Jameson’s response to the motion be submitted nine days before the hearing. He said the city is ultimately requesting Jameson find homes for eight of her cats and only have two because the agreement has not been kept.

Jameson said the cats are important for her as emotional support as she has a history of anxiety and depression. She said she had documentation from her doctors that showed how the cats help her.

Leuning stated he would review Jameson’s documentation from her doctor and medical records regarding the cats being emotional support animals, but the remainder of her response to the motion would not be reviewed because of the time it was turned in.

Earlier in the hearing, Jameson said she feels like she has been “targeted, harassed (and) humiliated” for her cats and questioned how others in the community are allowed to have more than two themselves.

“I feel like I’ve been condemned because I love animals,” she said.

She said she started putting up posts for a fence and should have the fence finished this weekend.

Leuning asked Kolker and Jameson to submit paperwork addressing whether the American with Disabilities Act or state laws give an exception for emotional support animals.

The judge said many people often interchange the terms emotional support animals with service animals, though the rules are different.

Both sides in the case get seven days to turn in the paperwork before Leuning will issue an order in the case.