An 81-year-old Maryland woman was arrested Wednesday and placed behind bars for reportedly failing to pay a $7,000 fine she had received for minor pet violations.
Mary Magdalene Root spent two nights in jail after being cited by animal control in May when her dogs managed to escape her yard several times. Someone took pictures of her dogs running free outside and she was reportedly hit with a $7,000 fine or could spend a year in jail for having her dogs "at large."
“I’m struggling to pay my house taxes. I couldn’t pay it," Root told WJZ-TV. "It’s a different thing when you leave your dogs out and you don’t care. But I do care."
The 81-year-old Cancer survivor — who failed to show up to court because of doctors orders — says she has a completely clean record with the law.
“I’ve never had a crime. Never. Not even a traffic ticket,” she said.
But, because she failed to be present on her court date, a judge had her arrested. As WJZ-TV reported, she was booked, fingerprinted and had a striped jumpsuit issued to her while waiting in a cell to see a judge without her cancer medication.
“I sort of clutched my Bible. And was crying and went to sleep,” she recounted.
[sharequote align="center"]“I sort of clutched my Bible. And was crying and went to sleep."[/sharequote]
Root's lawyer asked the judge to show leniency and let her go, but the judge reportedly refused to budge. Instead, Root was hit with a $2,500 bail. Further, the judge ruled that even if she could manage to pay it, her dogs would no longer be permitted to be on her property.
“She gave me the works. I feel like I’m a criminal, but yet I don’t feel like I’ve done anything,” Root said.
Unable to pay the $2,500 bail, Root sat in her cell. Then her luck suddenly changed.
According to WJZ-TV, on the second night a good samaritan paid the bond, setting her free.
“There are very nice people out there. But then there are some people who are so struck on the strictness of the law. I don’t know whether maybe that needs to be looked at,” Root said.
But now, Root faces another problem. She can't go back to her home since her dogs are no longer allowed there and she refuses to give them up.
“I love them,” she said. “I was planning on coming down on the dogs. But my dogs, they keep my company and I love them.”
A petition has now been set up to allow Root to bring her dogs back to her house.
Follow Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) on Twitter