From the Beverly Hills Courier Re Katherine Varjian

The Famous Feral Cat Lady Roams Free

There will be no criminal charges for the feeding of feral cats, at least for now. The criminal case pending against 65-year-old Katherine Varjian was dismissed August 7.

Varjian was charged for the feeding of feral cats in the alley behind the 100-200 blocks of Palm, Maple and Oakhurst Drives. Varjian was cited with two misdemeanor charges under a deleted City code (5-2-104, subdivision B and C). Varjian had been initially issued four citations, all for the same infraction, in January and February of this year. Two of those citations were dismissed at the pre-trial hearing in July due to the omission of the codes. The other two were upheld, pending trial, as they were in place while the code still existed.

“I think it was a great thing (that the case was dismissed),” said Tina Varjian, counsel for Varjian. “I don’t think (the court) could have gone any other way except dismiss because the City Council made it clear at the last two meetings that they were looking for a new and different ordinance that embraces trap-neuter-release (TNR).”

Counsel for Varjian requested dismissal of the case on the grounds that City Council did not intend to uphold the erroneously deleted code.

“From the position of the prosecutor, I go with what the law is,” said City Prosecutor Jim Eckart. “At the end of the day, the law was repealed. Ultimately my hope is that Ms. Varjian will comply with currently existing laws and laws that will exist in the future.”

“I think the case should not have been dismissed,” said resident Darian Bojeaux, who organized a petition signed by other concerned community members alleging that Varjian’s feedings have caused a nuisance in the area. Residents claim Varjian’s mishandling of food bring rodents, cockroaches and coyotes to the area, endangering the welfare of neighbors and their pets.

“City Council should have protected the residents and restricted feeding in the alleys unless otherwise allowed by law. The case could have gone forward against Varjian and then they could have enacted a TNR ordinance in the meantime. I think if nothing is done about it, she will continue. Now, not only is she continuing to feed, she has people helping her out,” continued Bojeaux.

A committee has been formed, at the request of City Council and consisting of experts in the field of feral animal care as well as local residents (including Bojeaux), to present a comprehensive ordinance to the City. A draft ordinance will be presented to City Council on Aug. 18. Per committee members, the ordinance will emphasize TNR, however there are still details needing to be resolved.

Varjian has refrained from feeding the feral cat colony in the interim, said her counsel.

“We’re hoping that the guidelines in place for feral cat care givers like herself and others in Beverly Hills,” said Tina Varjian. “Obviously she cares for these cats and they are well fed. There should be no reason why she shouldn’t be able to continue within the guidelines constructed.”

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