Monday, August 15, 2005

6 year old girl mauled by escaped Siberian Lynx pet

6 year old girl mauled by escaped Siberian Lynx pet

Cops Kill Big Cat After Attack In Clackamas

August 15, 2005

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CLACKAMAS, Ore. (AP) - Clackamas County sheriff's deputies shot and killed a pet lynx after it pounced on a six-year-old girl who was visiting her grandparents.

The girl's mother drove the cat away Sunday with a brick.

Frances Applegate suffered no visible injuries. The tan Siberian lynx was the size of a large dog.

"It got behind me, pounced on me, and it started clawing my head," the girl said.

Frances said she didn't have time to think about anything as the dark-brown spotted lynx tried to bite her head.

Officials say the cat was de-clawed, which probably saved the girl.

Her mother, Tanya Applegate, grabbed a brick and hit the lynx several times, forcing the cat to release her daughter.

Clackamas County sheriff's deputies arrived a short time later at the house. Deputies found the lynx crouched on the back porch and killed it with a single shot.

The owner's name was not available. Deputies said the owner reported the pet missing Friday to a Clackamas veterinary clinic, which contacted the sheriff's office.

Before killing the lynx, deputies attempted to snare the animal or shoot it with a Taser, but they were unable to get close enough, said detective Wendi Babst, a sheriff's spokeswoman.

Babst said the state requires state permits for lynx, but wasn't sure whether the owner had one.

Lynx that attacked 6-year-old girl was legal exotic pet

Sarah Bracey, the registered owner of the Siberian lynx, also owns a serval, a wildcat similar to a cheetah

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

CLACKAMAS -- The roaming pet lynx that attacked a 6-year-old Portland girl on Sunday is registered with the Oregon Department of Agriculture, authorities say. But the laws governing which agency registers an exotic animal can be confusing.

Clackamas County sheriff's deputies shot the wildcat after it had pounced on the head of Frances Applegate in her grandmother's driveway on Southeast Sunnyside Road . The child wasn't injured. The girl's mother, Tanya Applegate, forced the Siberian lynx to release her daughter by hitting it several times with a brick.

The lynx's owner, Sarah Bracey, who moved to the 167th block of Southeast Sunnyside Road on Friday, reported her pet missing on that same day to a Clackamas veterinary clinic. Bracey also owns a serval, an African wildcat similar to a cheetah, Oregon Department of Agriculture records show.

Bracey was unavailable for comment Monday.

Authorities scrambled Monday to determine which jurisdiction handles registering a lynx. The distinction, they said, depends on the type of lynx.

"I thought a lynx is a lynx, but I guess it's not that simple," said Bruce Pokarney, spokesman for the agriculture department.

Bracey's wildcat is a Siberian lynx, not a Canadian lynx, Pokarney said. A Siberian lynx is considered an "exotic" animal and falls under the jurisdiction of the Department of Agriculture. The owner of a Canadian lynx, a species indigenous to Oregon , would have to apply for a permit with the Department of Fish and Wildlife, instead, Pokarney said.

Records show Bracey has current permits with the Department of Agriculture for the serval cat since 2000, and for the lynx since 2003.

Pokarney said the lynx's facilities were inspected several times and were found adequate. He said permits for exotic animals are reissued every two years after a follow-up inspection and cost from $50 to $300 depending on the animal.

-- Gosia Wozniacka


Exotic pets pay too high a price if inaction rules

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

With its wildly exotic spots and stripes, the African serval is quite the head-turner.

It weighs 30 to 45 pounds and stands a couple of feet tall on all fours. It's been called the "poor man's cheetah."

But don't underestimate it.

It can leap eight feet straight up and typically establishes a hunting territory of about five square miles. You can find them along streams in the East African savannas and the higher altitudes of Kenya .

Or maybe right next door.

There are currently 19 of them registered as pets in Oregon . In fact, there may be one living in the very house on Sunnyside Road where a Siberian lynx escaped last week and ran at large for a couple of days before pouncing on a 6-year-old girl's head Sunday afternoon.

Diego the lynx, as you may recall, released its grip on the girl only after the girl's mother pounded it with a brick. The cops later shot the 3-year-old feline.

Predictably, Diego's owner, Sarah Bracey, told cops she was surprised her pet attacked someone.

It's my guess that Diego, too, was surprised by his actions. The 6-year-old and her mom were definitely surprised.

And the surprises keep on coming.

The Oregon Department of Agriculture is the agency stuck with the absurd task of trying to keep track of our exotic pets, from tigers to squirrel monkeys. Their records show that Sarah Bracey also owns a serval.

Tuesday, I spoke with Bruce Pokarney, a spokesman with the state Department of Agriculture, and Don Hansen, state veterinarian, to figure out whether Bracey would be allowed to keep the serval.

So far, because their investigations are just beginning, neither the cops nor state officials are even clear on how Diego got out. Hansen, who spoke with Bracey Tuesday morning, said he assumes she still has the serval. He's not sure, because he didn't ask her.

If the lynx escape was accidental, Hansen said, it would likely have no impact on Bracey's permit to keep the serval. Any decision on the serval will likely be based on the quality of its holding facility and Bracey's care of the animal.

How would that make you feel if you lived or worked next door to that serval?

For the past six years, Richard Barhoum and his wife, Norma, have run a nursery one-tenth of a mile from where Diego escaped. Barhoum, who has lived in Clackamas County for more than 20 years, got word of the missing lynx Friday morning as he headed into a busy weekend where families would be wandering his three-acre business.

"Why keep dangerous pets?" asked Barhoum. "It's the same with all these dangerous dogs, like pit bulls. Sooner or later, they get free. And what then?"

Pokarney, state Department of Agriculture spokesman, said he recalls only a couple of exotic pet escapes in his 14 years there. "The percentage of dogs running loose and attacking people is much higher," Pokarney said.

But whether it's a pit bull or a puma, let's not penalize the animals or the animal owners for the bad deeds of a few animals. Instead, let's avoid the attacks.

Exotic animals and dangerous dogs just don't belong in homes. That's why more than a third of the states have banned private ownership of dangerous exotic animals. It's why an increasing number of cities across the United States are cracking down on dangerous dogs, even banning them.

That doesn't mean that I like the fact that hundreds of pit bulls have been destroyed in Denver since May, when the courts reinstated that city's pit bull ban.

It means like all tough choices, I think we need to do better than simply taking the easy road of doing almost nothing.

And that's not just the state I'm talking about. Oregon law allows local jurisdictions to establish rules governing pets.

So far, our only response to recent dog attacks was for the Legislature to increase the penalty for the owners of the dogs who kill a human being.

I'm sure that'll be very comforting news to anyone killed by a dog. And to the attacking dogs, who will likely be killed for following their instincts.

Andy Parker's columns appear Mondays and Wednesdays. Contact him at 503-294-5945 or at His columns and other local columnists of The Oregonian can be found online at