Orlando Woman Feeding Feral Cats Arrested For Pulling Gun On Concerned Citizen

For stray and feral cats, they depend on the kindness of caretakers for food and nourishment. People all over the world are dedicated to their colonies, some caring for the same group of cats for years! But when these cats get sick, they need to quickly be trapped and given medical attention. It can be difficult coercing them into traps–sometimes taking weeks or months. It is during this time that the caretakers often need to enlist the help of local authorities. But what happens when a feeder neglects to address the medical issues? For the felines near Lake Sunset in Orlando, FL, they are at the center of that exact situation. A situation that became much more concerning when those involved didn’t quite see eye-to-eye. In fact, one woman here decided pulling a gun on another would be the best course of action!

On Thursday, April 4th, 55-year-old Lisa Maureen Saunders was arrested for her horrible decision. 

Saunders works–likely now “worked”– as a pizza delivery driver for a local Domino’s Pizza. She had apparently been feeding the city cats and those in the 2200 block of West South Street, for at least 2 years. It’s great that she is obviously a cat-lover, but care-taking comes with responsibilities. Recently, residents noticed that the cats were looking sickly and contacted authorities.

One local resident who reported the issues, was worried about the neighborhood children. She was concerned that if they approached the cats, they would become infected with “scabies”. If this is what the felines were experiencing, it IS contagious to humans. Although usually only causing itching in humans, it’s still best to avoid contracting it.

Orange County Animal Services stepped in to help, setting traps in the area. Unfortunately, they were met with quite a bit of resistance. It’s never easy to trap feral or stray cats. They are taught their entire lives to avoid humans, usually unless there is food involved. So one of the methods of trapping is to patiently feed them closer to traps, eventually placing food within the traps. 

But what do you do when someone purposefully derails those efforts, and delays helping the cats? 

The concerned woman noticed Lisa Saunders continuing to feed the cats away from the traps. On March 30th, she witnessed Saunders “putting food on the sidewalk around 5:30 a.m.”. It was not the first time the two woman had disagreed regarding the felines. Several calls had been made by that point complaining of Saunders actions.

The report from the Orlando Sentinel indicates this time was quite different however. 

After warning Saunders that the feedings were attracting sick felines, the woman said Saunders walked to her [2004] silver Nissan Altima and brandished a handgun.

“Don’t f— with me,” Saunders told the woman and then got into her car and drove away, according to the arrest report.

Saunders wasn’t a complete stranger to the area though.

As fate would have it, she delivered a pizza to the victim within days of the incident. 

She was immediately recognized by the woman who contacted the police. Officers reached out to the fast food location and spoke to the manager. Asking if their delivery woman drove the car in question and if she fed strays, both were confirmed to be Saunders. She was then identified in a lineup by the victim.

After her arrest on Thursday, she was booked into the Orange County Jail. Per the court records, her bond was set at $10,000. The official charge was “aggravated assault with a firearm.”

Photo: Lisa Maureen Saunder Orange County Jail

When I first saw this headline, I was worried for the feeder thinking she’d been protecting herself. After researching the incident though, was concerned me was the reputation this may give stray/feral feeders in the area. Not to mention the rescue organizations trying to help the felines survive. This woman may have been doing a nice thing feeding cats, but being a caretaker is SO much more than that. 

Please reach out to your local rescue, TNVR and feral caretaker communities if you are interested in learning more. Sadly, with the millions of cats living on the streets, there are ALWAYS those in need. Just be sure to be safe and cooperative. Oh also, until now figured this went without saying–no violence! It’s about the cats lives people, and they depend on us to do the right thing.

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13 Comments

  1. I and others have been working with feral cats (and people’s dumped friendly cats) for almost 20 years. The problem with some people who do this is they become eccentric about it. Many are hoarders who think it’s betters to put 50 cats in a filthy home, let them become ill and die of neglect, then feed them outside, provide shelters and medical care. Antibiotic (many penicillins have pleasing tastes) and can be mixed in soft food or baby food meat and the feral cats will eat it.
    If these cats are ill it is better to try to gather them up and treat them than to leave them die a slow death. I understand her fears but she may actually cause them more harm than good. I hope the cats are treated and taken care of. But that is not always a guarantee. You can only do what you can do.

    • I don’t think there’s any indication here that MS Saunders is a hoarder or eccentric.
      I have volunteered in TNR and Rescue. Most of the people I knew invested greatly of their time and finances.
      People with more money can cover more bases. Sometimes I think there can be a bit of classism amongst our lot. It can be a bit judgey.

  2. The only problem I have with this, is that (without defending what this woman did – no one should have a gun pulled on them for any reason) perhaps she knew more about the situation? For instance, perhaps OCAS wasn’t trapping them to help, but to euthanize. I can’t say for sure, but I know they do that down here in Miami. Our euthanized cat rate is incredibly high in the tri-county area, and they’ve been known to lie about it, too. The Animal Services in Miami and Broward have been caught many times reporting animals as too sick too treat, or too feral to help, when in fact they were simply saving their funds for purebred or young animals. I’m not saying this is happening in Orlando, just that you never know the whole story. I think this woman should be given her story as well. OBVIOUSLY she’s very passionate about helping them, and I don’t see why she would pull a gun on someone if she believed they were helping.

  3. Well, it is also paramount to note this woman deserves her day in court and we who were not there have only
    1 person’s version of events so far. It’s entirely possible she was defending herself from what she considered a threatening situation. Florida gun laws allow for guns to be stored in one’s car. (But it does not allow open carry except going to and from hunting or target practice.)

    • Uh no. If she was feeling threatened, that doesn’t jive with having to walk to the car to retrieve her gun. She’s a nut.

  4. Colony carers do have a difficult time of it. It’s not unusual for caretakers to be threatened with trapping to euthanize or poisoning. Many think stray and feral cats make their neighborhood look unkempt and down trodden and want “the problem” to go away. Hyping health issues is a commonly used tactic.
    In regards to fears for their children, parents need to teach their children not to touch any unfamiliar animal. Common sense.
    As for this caretaker, working in pizza delivery, she probably can barely cover the food. It’s generous of her to help the cats how she can. Maybe there is a rescue or shelter that can help her out with veterinary concerns. But, usually they’re stretched tight, so that may or might not be an option.
    My guess is that the caretaker was trying to help the cats and probably felt very desperate when she threatened with the gun. And, she probably regrets it.
    I think we need to nurture good outcomes and encourage people to do the best that they can.

  5. They did also say that the woman who complained about the cats had complained before – not that they were sick (she clearly didn’t care about that) but that the woman in trouble was feeding them at all. I am pretty sure the woman who complained didn’t want the cats around at all. It is possible that the cat feeder felt threatened before and that’s why she reacted this way.

    I also find it interesting that the police arrested the woman based solely on the other woman’s say so. Unless there were witnesses or security footage that they don’t mention (or that I missed).

    • There was no note on WHO initially reported the cats were sick to the animal services but it’s likely it was the same woman who was assaulted. No one deserves a gun pulled on them.

  6. I agree both that nobody deserves to have a gun pointed at them and also that stray/feral kitty carers often get judged harshly…usually something to the effect of “crazy cat lady” when in reality “caring cat lover” is much more accurate!!!! I live in Spokane, WA…there are no TNRs in at least this side of the state (and I believe the entire state). Supposedly, our shelters are no-kill shelters but they have ways around those rules so, even whilst pulling a gun is unacceptable, I feel for the woman (alleged suspect) because she must have been worried about the furbabies. I have furbabies that I feed everyday, without fail, and I understand where she’d be worried about them. And to the woman (alleged victim) that kept complaining about the kitties, I suggest becoming part of the solution…everyone can do a little something to help and when we all come together to put our positive actions where our mouths are amazing results happen!!!!!

  7. I have a modest feral colony I have TNRd and fed for 7 years. Because it is on public land, I think we have been thru almost everything, believe me. My site has been burned and the shelters stolen, then burned a second time, both during winter. Folks regularly pour water into winter shelters on the bitterest of nights. In summer when it is hottest they poop at my site. My shelters have been ripped apart and crushed on multiple occasions. Cats have been harmed, one was maimed, and years ago, one was killed. In 2013, four cats vanished on the same day, some eartipped, some not. I never saw them again.
    Multiple other cats have been been taken, one of whom was FIV pos but had a robust immune system and wanted to remain outdoors. I spent more than a thousand bucks on him, his teeth, his supplements and had a vet following him closely. A guy took the cat and when I located my boy, told me I would be arrested for trespassing if I tried to take the cat as I had no proof the cat was mine. That is when I had my gang microchipped. The cat rescue community has provided no support. I am out there pretty much alone. The one saving grace is that I have kept coming, been there every day, never quit maintaining the site and caring for and loving my little gang. And just about everyone knows that and perhaps by now there is a bit of respect from the ordinary folk who cause no harm but do not get involved. That is about the best protection I have and I am grateful for it. I don’t own a gun or a baseball bat or a knife, since I have no pugilistic skills and if I brought a weapon, I would probably be the one harmed by it. Nor do I agree with this woman’s actions. But I really do understand. For her sake, I would wish that members of the cat rescue community could reach out to her and include her in the care and maintenance of this colony for which she has sacrificed now a job and her freedom. It is hard sometimes to keep balance in your perspective and she obviously totally lost hers. It is an understandable lapse, one we all commit and one could wish the community would gather her in rather than ostracizing her.

  8. There was no gun. Phillips did not want me there. She smokes dope outside her apt.

  9. I’d like to start a Go Fund Me for Lisa. I for one, have encountered similar hostile people that just want the cats gone and think by not feeding them, they will go away. I have nothing but admiration for Lisa for sticking up for the cats. The other women should have minded her own business. Scabbies??? Shes also ignorant.

Written by JessiCAT

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