A woman caught on camera dumping a cat in a wheelie bin is a cat lover from Birmingham, according to her mum.
CCTV footage of 45-year-old Mary Bale putting the cat in a rubbish bin in Coventry caused outrage across the world.
But it has emerged that she is actually from Birmingham and is a former member of the Birmingham Bach Choir.
A former choir colleague, Celia Potts, said: “I sang with Mary in the choir for three years. She always seemed like a lovely lady and I simply cannot believe that she could do something as cruel as this.
“She was always very quiet and kept herself to herself. But she was pleasant enough to speak to.”
Ms Bale became the subject of death threats and calls for revenge attacks were posted on the internet.
Last night her mum Celia Bale defended her daughter and said she was distraught about putting the cat in a bin and that she didn’t know ‘what had come over her.’
Celia said: “Her father Maurice is hospital in the moment and is very ill. I think she was just in a world of her own. We all are at the moment.
“Mary said she just didn’t know was possessed her, or what came over her, it’s just very strange because she cannot explain her actions at all.
“We’re all living on edge at moment, she doesn’t know what happened.
“She absolutely adores cats, she’s an animal lover, it just doesn’t make sense.
“We’re just hoping we can all get through this because I know a lot of people are not happy about it."
The internet storm over the video has caused police to fear for Mary Bale’s safety. Officers say she is not under official police protection but say they are safeguarding her from potential retaliation.
News of the cat being dumped has gone global since appearing on the Coventry Telegraph’s website on Monday morning.
Police communications manager Hilary Hopker said: “We have traced the woman.
“We have concerns for her safety because of the vitriol shown towards her on Facebook and we are looking at safeguarding the woman from any kind of vigilante attack.
“As soon as the reaction online came up the immediate concern was over threats to her life and the danger she may potentially be in.”
The cat's owner Stephanie Mann caught CCTV footage on her home security system of Ms Bale stopping to stroke her cat, named Lola. She then dropped the cat in the wheelie bin and shut the lid, leaving her trapped for 15 hours.
Ms Mann, 24, uploaded the footage to a new Facebook group called “Help me find the woman who put my cat in the bin” and over the last two days hundreds of people have left messages on the website.
Ms Mann said: “I think the reactions online are a little harsh to be honest. She’s a human being and she’s probably pretty scared at the moment, but at the same time, what she did was disgusting.
“She didn’t think about how my cat was feeling stuck in a bin for 15 hours in its own mess. ”
Police posted Community Support Officers outside the woman’s Coventry home yesterday for public order purposes. The RSPCA will now interview her before deciding whether to prosecute.
Meanwhile, Ms Bale has told a national newspaper that she binned the cat as "a joke".
She told The Sun that she noticed the cat as she was walking home from work and began stroking it, adding: "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."
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."
Watch the CCTV footage here: