Kentwood woman who tended to 30 feral cats cooperates, avoids eviction

A Kentwood woman was facing eviction from the apartment complex she's lived in for 23 years -- if she didn't stop feeding feral cats in the woods across the street.

KENTWOOD, MICH. - It was last month when the story of Jean Briggs and her collection of feral cats was first reported.

The 80-year old Kentwood woman was facing eviction from her apartment complex she's lived in for 23 years if she didn't stop feeding feral cats in the woods across the street.

It appears the eviction threat has been lifted, thanks to Briggs, the apartment management and volunteers from "Carol's Ferals" -- a local rescue mission for cats -- coming to an agreement that benefits all parties.

Around 9 a.m. Monday, Sept. 5, Carol's Ferals volunteers arrived at the overgrown field and began setting traps in hopes of capturing the cats.

"This takes a lot of patience and time," said Johanna Hetrick, one of the volunteers.

Hetrick worked her way through the high weeds and set the traps, which worked, because four adult cats were trapped very quickly.

For the better part of the past year, management of the Oxford Place Apartments say they have been taking complaints from residents about several cats milling around. A few cats quickly became several cats, so something needed to be done.

"It all started with me," said Briggs, a 23-year resident of the apartment complex, and the person who has been feeding and caring for the feral cats for the better part of the last decade. "The cats are trained; I have them on feeding schedules, and I love them all."

Apartment managers sent Briggs a letter in August threatening to evict her if she continued to feed and cater to the cats.

That's when Carol's Ferals was contacted and was asked to capture the cats, neuter them, then return them to the wild. In order to be able to do that effectively, Briggs needed to agree to cutting back on her cat feedings to once per day, and no food the day before the traps are set.

Initially, Briggs didn't want to agree with that plan, but after three weeks of marinating on the idea, and facing possible eviction, she agreed.

Carol's Ferals decided upon Labor Day to go to work and get the cats.

"We realized there were a lot more cats than we anticipated," said Hetrick, as she continued to set traps. "Jean, the apartment complex and Carol's Ferals are all working together right now to help these cats, and that starts will preventing them from continuing to reproduce."

Briggs watched as the cats were trapped and while it was emotional, she seemed to realize this was for the best.

"It's going to be good for the cats and good for the whole neighborhood," Briggs said.

Carol's Ferals volunteers say they trapped a total of ten cats Monday. They plan to continue to return to the wooded location in Kentwood until they're able to get all the cats trapped and neutered. 

"Most of the cats will be returned to this location after being fixed to live out the rest of their lives, but some of the friendlier ones will likely be adopted out," Hetrick said.. 

Briggs says she'll continue living at the apartment complex, for now.

"I hope to continue to live here, but we'll have to see about that," Briggs said.

(© 2016 WZZM)


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