10/10/2013 06:26 pm ET

Owner Of Wheelchair-Bound Cat Fined For Not Using Leash

Pets in wheelchairs apparently need to be leashed, the same as their able-bodied counterparts. One Florida woman learned as much when she was ticketed for walking her disabled kitty without a tether.

Yvonne Steel, the owner of wheelchair-bound cat Pooh Bear, was fined $230 after animal services officers in Melbourne (part of Brevard County) spotted her pets roaming free.

In addition to fines, she was also slapped with tickets for failing to keep her Chihuahua on a leash and for a rabies shot violation.

Reports local outlet WESH 2 News, officials with the Brevard County Animal Services said they had previously warned Steel that walking any pet -- disabled or not -- without a leash is illegal if it's not on a resident's own property. However, Steel holds that she was unaware the law applied to her cat.

"I wouldn't even know where to put the leash to be quite honest," she told WESH.

While many pet owners do not take their cats out for a walk like they would a dog, some leash laws around the country implicitly include felines by grouping them in with other domestic animals.

According to Brevard County's Code of Ordinances, for example, owners of any type of animal are responsible for reasonable care of their pets and must restrain animals with a leash when off personal property.

Alley Cat Allies notes, however, that cat leash laws are not always in the best interest of the animals. The feline advocacy group claims that these mandates lead to more cats being killed in animal shelters, since any kitty off a leash is targeted by animal control.



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