CONWAY — Conway cat lady Gerri Dempsey was cited again for feeding feral cats at a business, but Amy Lawrence-Lovely, her attorney, said the ticket was a mistake.
Publicity over Dempseys previous citation stirred up a storm of allegiance for her and what she was doing. A hearing on that citation was avoided on the day it was to be held when Dempsey and Conway came to an agreement that the city would drop the charge and allow her to trap feral cats to be neutered and she would no longer feed cats at businesses in the city.
Lawrence-Lovely said the officer who cited Dempsey this time mistakenly thought she was feeding feral cats behind Kmart, when in fact she was going to pick up some feral cats that were in traps she had set behind the store.
Lawrence-Lovely said the matter was resolved after she explained the situation to police.
Dempsey said Wednesday afternoon that she has trapped 30 feral cats so far and believes there are about 20 more that she has been feeding daily at numerous locations around Conway.
Dempsey said she was directed by God 15 years ago to feed stray cats and that she has done so every day since then.
She said that most of the cats she has trapped so far have gone to Coastal Animal Rescue in Murrells Inlet, where they will be neutered and held for adoption. Others, she said, she has taken into her own home and is fostering them there. They also have been neutered.
Meanwhile, representatives of Sav-R-Cats met with city officials to work on an agreement where the city would financially help the nonprofit neuter feral animals it traps within city limits. Jon Bonsignor, president of Sav-R-Cats, said the group has neutered about 500 cats the were captured in Conway since 2004. But there is no money now to continue the work in Conway.
The group operates primarily along the coast from North Myrtle Beach to Surfside Beach.
Bonsignor previously criticized Conway police for citing Dempsey for feeding feral cats, but now believes Conway police Chief Reggie Gosnell is doing the best he can in this situation.
We have to cooperate with the officials and theyre going to cooperate with us, Bonsignor said.
The organization also is working to begin a Sav-R-Cats chapter in Conway and has appointed Conway resident Ted Sejda as its liaison with the city. Sav-R-Cats has already met once with interested Conway residents, but Sejda said that money is the main block block now.
Heres the deal, he said, its the price thing, you know.
Sejda said that people who want to contribute to the effort may send a tax-deductible check to Sav-R-Cats, P.O. Box 30596, Myrtle Beach, SC 29588. The words Conway cats should be written at the bottom of the check.
He also said the organization would welcome more volunteers to help with its efforts throughout the Grand Strand.
Sejda further said the organization wants to lobby the City Council to change a section of Conways animal ordinance that makes it illegal for anyone to allow an animal to roam free in the city limits. He said that means that feral cats the group captured and neutered could not legally be released back in city limits.
Bonsignor said the city also will talk with the city about setting aside land where captured and neutered feral cats can be held for adoption.
Contact STEVE JONES at 444-1765.