Judge: Hartland woman must give up 8 cats

Published 10:05 pm Monday, September 24, 2018

A Hartland woman has been ordered to reduce the number of cats she has from 10 to two.

The summary judgment, issued by Freeborn County District Court Judge Ross Leuning Sept. 17, came after the city of Hartland took court action against Kim Jameson, claiming she did not follow a June 2017 agreement by failing to keep her eight other cats indoors or in an enclosure. Jameson also allegedly continued attracting cats by leaving out food.

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The city of Hartland has stated Jameson led an excess number of cats to the community by feeding them, which has caused an extraordinary amount of cat feces to be spread across a local park that children frequent, an accusation Jameson denied.

Jameson was ordered to deliver unlicensed cats to the city, the city’s appointed agent or a humane society within 10 days of the order. Jameson or other residents of her home were ordered to properly license and tag no more than two cats, “complying fully with the ordinance by providing sufficient identifying photos, veterinary records, including records of spaying/neutering.”

Leuning said the city of Hartland or an appointed agent can enter Jameson’s house, 515 Johnson St., Thursday to detain any unlicensed cats if she does not comply with the order by then.

Jameson said Monday she is trying to find homes for the excess cats.

In issuing the ruling, Leuning said the Americans with Disabilities Act only applies to “any dog that is individually trained,” rejecting Jameson’s assertions the cats were emotional support animals. 

Jameson said she was “very angry” at the judge’s ruling, noting she lost her two jobs during the process and now will be left with only two cats.

“I feel like I don’t want to be here anymore,” she said.

She said they have not taken similar steps against other cat owners in Hartland who are also violating the ordinance.

“They pick and choose who they are going after,” Jameson said.

Jameson said she did not follow the original agreement because fence requirements were established after the agreement and the city refused her fence request and did not follow through on allowing her to have 10 cats.

The city said in May it refused her request for a 4-foot chain link fence because it would not have kept feral cats in her yard.

Leuning said Jameson signed the settlement agreement, “thereby accepting the terms of the contract.”

“The settlement agreement was a properly formed contract,” Leuning said. “By allowing her cats outdoors and placing food likely to attract cats, Jameson breached the settlement agreement.”

Per the June 2017 agreement, Jameson would have had 10 days to find and accomplish placements for her grandfathered cats if she failed to keep them indoors or in an enclosure. She also agreed to not place food in public or private places within the city to feed or attract additional cats.

Jameson said in May she did not want to sign the agreement, but was informed by her lawyer he would remove himself from the case if she did not reach the agreement.

The city said it provided Jameson “reasonable notice of the violations.”

The city of Albert Lea has an agreement with Hartland to conduct search warrants on issues regarding long grass, junk vehicles and animal control and could enforce a search warrant on Jameson’s house.

Hartland Mayor Deb Flatness declined to comment on the ruling.

Albert Lea Public Safety Director J.D. Carlson did not respond to requests for comment.

About Sam Wilmes

Sam Wilmes covers crime, courts and government for the Albert Lea Tribune.

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