She Fought the HOA and She Won: Cats To Stay in Falls Run

 |  Jul 28th 2011  |   3 Contributions


Louise Ravert stands next to one of the small shelters she installed for stray and feral cats. Photo by Reza A. Marvashti for the Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star

A Virginia woman has emerged victorious in her struggle for stray cats.

Five months ago, Louise Ravert ran afoul of the homeowners' association in Fall Run, the Virginia community where she lives, because she was providing food and shelter for homeless cats.

This was an odd turn of events because the association had previously given its blessing to Ravert's efforts. Four years ago, she appeared before the HOA's board of directors, seeking permission to trap and spay or neuter feral cats in the neighborhood. Her request was approved and she raised money to treat about 30 cats.

Eventually Ravert found herself working not only with feral cats but with strays that she believed had been abandoned by residents or dropped off in the neighborhood.Still, nobody had a problem. In fact, I imagine area residents appreciated the fact that the cats were getting food, shelter and veterinary care.

That is, until one homeowner complained.

In February, Ravert and her husband received a notice that they were in violation of four sections of the HOA's covenants. Property Manager Debbie Sutton informed the Raverts that the roaming cats were a noisy nuisance that emitted foul and obnoxious odors and created an unsightly or unkempt condition. Ravert was also told that feeding "wildlife" wasn't allowed.

Ravert had a hearing before the HOA's covenants committee in May, where she was instructed to remove the cat shelters. She wasn't about to uproot the felines from the only home they'd known, so she appealed the decision to the community's seven-member board of directors.

The Stafford County SPCA got wind of Ravert's troubles and provided an attorney at no cost. Neighbors rallied to support her. When she went before the board on July 13, Ravert offered to move the shelters behind her home and plant more shrubbery to disguise the feeding station in her front yard.

The Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star reports that on July 20, Ravert got the news she'd been hoping to hear. The Board repealed the violation notice. She immediately sent e-mails to her supporters with "A victory for the feral, stray and abandoned cats" in the subject line, and many exclamations and smiley faces (and maybe even some dancing bananas and animated fireworks) below.

"I'm still on a high," Ravert said last Friday. " I can't believe it, I really can't believe it."

Score one for the good guys!

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