Saturday, November 07, 2009

Two exotic cats escape from former home of breeder

Bobcat captured at former home of breeder
By Ashley Meeks Sun-News reporter
Posted: 11/07/2009 12:00:00 AM MST

LAS CRUCES - A bobcat was captured at the former home of an exotic cat breeder Thursday and another large cat is still on the loose, according to Doña Ana Sheriff's Department investigators.

The bobcat was isolated in a tree and shot with a tranquilizer dart to capture it without injury, after which it was transported to the Animal Services Center of the Mesilla Valley, and is expected to be sent to a sanctuary, said Doña Ana County Animal Control Director Curtis Childress.

A second, slightly larger cat - possibly a pregnant bobcat or small mountain lion - may have escaped the residence before investigators arrived. The residence is north of Las Cruces on King Edward Avenue, near the intersection of Doña Ana Road and West Taylor Road.

The cat on the loose is not a threat to humans unless cornered or harassed, but anyone who sees it should call 911. Traps have been set, but children and small pets are recommended to be kept indoors until the cat is captured.

There have already been two sightings of the other cat, Childress said - while officers were trying to get the male bobcat down from the tree, the second cat was spotted lounging on top of the animal control truck.

"We do not believe it is an animal that belonged to her. It is possible her bobcat could have attracted this animal in the area," Childress said.

The 600 block of King Edward Avenue has been under surveillance since June when authorities relieved renter Kelli Perras, a former cat breeder, of 35 exotic cats, including 10 pregnant females.

Perras was evicted and moved into an apartment in the city, where Perras unlawfully kept four exotic cats, two servals and a bobcat, Childress said.

City Animal Control Supervisor Rudy Adame confirmed Perras was cited in October for having non-permitted animals and allowing them to run loose, both misdemeanors.

State wildlife officials transported the servals to a sanctuary in Kingman, Ariz., Childress said, but Perras appears to have taken the bobcat back to King Edward Drive, where the home-owners discovered it when they arrived to clean.

Do-a Ana County residents are allowed to own up to six domestic animals without a permit, or 15 if they have a multi-animal permit.

Perras did not have such a permit, nor did she have a permit for possessing a fur-bearing animal, said DASO Sgt. Joe Reynaud. Such permits are not likely to be granted, Childress said.

"We are not going to give a permit for the animals to be in Do-a Ana County and, as I understand it, the state is not inclined to give her a permit," Childress said. "Given her inability to be able to contain (the cats) in a facility where they can't get loose, I'm not going to subjugate the public to even the remotest possibility of being injured by the animals."

County animal control officers continue to capture other, exotic-looking domestic cats from the residence. The investigation is ongoing and will be reviewed by wildlife officers to see if possession of the bobcats constitutes state or federal violations.

The exotic cats removed in June - Bengals (seven generations removed from a cross with a Leopard Cat) and Savannahs (seven generations removed from a cross with a serval, a cheetah-like cat) - were valued at $800 to $1,200, a family member said at the time. They were transported to the Humane Society of the White Mountains in Lakeside, Ariz., about 130 miles northeast of Phoenix, so that they would not be euthanized.

Ashley Meeks can be reached at ameeks@lcsun-news.com; (575) 541-5462

http://www.lcsun-news.com/las_cruces-news/ci_13734744

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Learn more about big cats and Big Cat Rescue at http://www.bigcatrescue.org

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