A woman who enraged animal lovers across the world by dumping a cat in a wheelie bin said today she "thought it would be funny".
Mary Bale told The Sun that she binned the feline as "a joke", adding: "It's only a cat." The 45-year-old sparked an angry online campaign after being caught on CCTV throwing the pet into a large green rubbish bin in the Stoke area of Coventry.
Tabby Lola was trapped for 15 hours after being picked up by the scruff on the neck and dumped in the container. The four-year-old emerged unscathed but footage of the incident, posted on social networking site Facebook, provoked angry reactions.
Hundreds of people joined groups on the site and many have posted threatening messages about the woman depicted in the CCTV. The footage also led to an ongoing RSPCA investigation.
Speaking to The Sun, the woman said people were "overreacting". She said: "I really don't see what everyone is getting so excited about - it's just a cat." "I don't know what came over me, but I suddenly thought it would be funny to put it in the wheelie bin which was right beside me. I did it as a joke because I thought it would be funny. I never thought it would be trapped. I expected it to wriggle free."
Ms Bale admitted that she "shouldn't have done it" but added that she did not deserve the hatred of people around the world.
Lola's owner Stephanie Mann appealed for calm and urged people not to take "matters into their own hands".
The 24-year-old cat lover said: "I can't believe the reaction to the story. I only posted it on Facebook because I wanted to see who she was. Now that the police know who she is, I think people should leave it to them and the RSPCA and not take matters into their own hands. Whatever she has done, I don't like her, but I don't want her to get hurt. It needs to be dealt with properly, not by people getting aggressive with her."
West Midlands Police said Ms Bale had not committed a criminal offence. A spokesman said: "The RSPCA is leading an investigation into the incident and will be interviewing the woman shortly. Coventry police are supporting the society's investigation and would urge the public to leave the matter to be dealt with in the appropriate manner by the authorities. Coventry police have not arrested the woman because she has not committed a criminal offence."
The force said the woman was not being given police protection and community support officers were outside her address monitoring a large group of people for "public order purposes as per routine police procedure".