Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Cat lover facing crackdown by Temple Terrace officials

TEMPLE TERRACE— Jeanne Ambler insists she isn't a "cat nut."

Yes, she loves felines and enjoys petting and hugging them. But more important, she can't bear to see them — or any other animal — go hungry.

Ambler, 81, has been feeding stray cats near her home at Nantucket Bay Apartments for years. Her habit has lately drawn the ire of some neighbors, apartment managers and city officials.

Now it may cost Ambler her home.

In June, the city sent her a notice about feeding and harboring feral cats. Last Thursday, she got a seven-day eviction notice for creating unsanitary conditions and disrupting peace at the apartment complex. On Tuesday, her July rent check of $516 was returned.

For Ambler, not feeding the three short-haired domestic cats that find their way to the complex every afternoon is inhumane.

"It just seems incredibly cruel," she said. "It's like starving a child."

Ambler has lived in the complex, an affordable housing community for seniors, for more than a decade. She has a cat of her own — Impy, who is part Siamese — and a poodle, Punkins, who was left at her door.

A retired Hillsborough Community College tutor, Ambler lives on a monthly Social Security check of $683 with some financial help from family members. She has suffered two heart attacks and severe arthritis forces her to use a mobility scooter.

Still, she has maintained her ritual of feeding the stray cats and squirrels scampering around the parking lot near her apartment. She said she has had many of the cats spayed and neutered.

She calls one Nasty — short for Nasturtium. Another goes by Fatso. They keep her company, giving her something to look forward to every day.

For months, officials at the complex have been sending her notices to stop.

Still, some residents are divided on the issue.

"They don't bother me," Evelyn Childs, 75, who moved in about two months ago, said of the cats. "People who are animal lovers will try to take care of stray animals."

Jeane Seymour, 78, said the food put out for the stray cats tends to attract more animals.

"I just think they should feed (animals) in the house, not put food outside," Seymour said.

Ambler said she has seen a number of animals — raccoons, possums, armadillos, squirrels and foxes — in the apartment complex and that they never cause any harm.

But on Tuesday, Temple Terrace code compliance director Joe Gross, met with Ambler, reiterating the same concerns as Seymour. He said he hopes she will find other ways to help stray animals.

"She's very passionate about animals and we certainly understand that," Gross said, noting that it's important to balance public health and safety with her compassion for animals.

Gross said if Ambler continues to feed the animals, she'll have to face the city's Municipal Code Enforcement Board, which could levy a daily fine of as much as $250.

The complex is owned by the Gatehouse Cos., based in Massachusetts. Christina Blevins, the community director, and the company's law firm declined to comment.

Ambler's lease expires in October and she has nowhere else to go.

"I just really hope somebody will come forward and say, 'Hey we can take these three cats,' " said Ambler's daughter, Judy Heeschen, 63.

Yet on Tuesday, Ambler was unsure about her next step and whether she will stop feeding the animals.

"I grew up during the Depression," said Ambler. "I know what it feels like to be hungry."

Nandini Jayakrishna can be reached at (813) 226-3383 or njayakrishna@sptimes.com.

Cat lover facing crackdown by Temple Terrace officials 07/06/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, July 7, 2010 1:59pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Lady Antebellum's Charles Kelly talks family, songwriting and more before Tampa show

    Music & Concerts

    A while back at the Grammys, Charles Kelley found himself in the same room as Paul McCartney. The Lady Antebellum singer, a seven-time Grammy winner in his own right, couldn't work up the courage to say hello.

    Lady Antebellum perform at Tampa's MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre on Friday. Credit: Eric Ray Davidson
  2. Clearwater suspect due in court after 9 die in sweltering San Antonio truck

    Nation

    SAN ANTONIO — Nine people are dead and the death toll could rise after emergency crews pulled dozens of people from a sweltering tractor-trailer found parked outside a Walmart in the midsummer Texas heat, victims of what officials said was an immigrant-smuggling attempt gone wrong.

    San Antonio police officers investigate the scene where eight people were found dead in a tractor-trailer loaded with at least 30 others outside a Walmart store in stifling summer heat in what police are calling a horrific human trafficking case, Sunday, July 23, 2017, in San Antonio. [Associated Press]
  3. What you need to know for Monday, July 24

    News

    Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what you need to know today.

    At 1.2 million gallons, the house of Harry Barkett in South Tampa used more water than anyone else in the Tampa Bay region between Jan. 1 and May 31 of this year, when Tampa was in a severe drought. ALESSANDRA DA PRA  |   Times
  4. Discovering the true meaning of Black Forest cake in the German region itself

    Cooking

    The first time I had a taste of the Black Forest, it wasn't by way of cake.

    Black Forest Cake in Germany was granted legally protected status in 2013. It must use the gateau’s original ingredients, including kirsch, a brandy made from fermented sour cherries from the region.
  5. Gov. Scott's tough talk on Venezuela may not turn into economic action

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — To show his solidarity with Venezuelans, Gov. Rick Scott held a rally in South Florida and repeatedly promised to punish companies that do business with the Nicolás Maduro regime.

    Gov. Rick Scott held a rally July 10 at El Arepazo restaurant to show solidarity with Venezuelans. Scott has said he wants to punish companies that work with the Nicol?s Maduro regime.