A true catfight: Cougar owner says he will leave New Carlisle
Javier Perez won’t part with his pet, even though she’s been outlawed in New Carlisle.
The New Carlisle City Council passed an ordinance last week that prohibits ownership of exotic animals, including Perez’s cougar, and now he’s packing his bags.
“We’re moving outside the city limits,” said Perez. “I’m trying to keep myself out of a situation in which the sheriff comes to my door to take my cat or arrest me.”
The ordinance comes after months of debate that was sparked by complaints about Perez’s cat.
“We had citizens who were complaining about having that type of animal in their neighborhood,” said Bob Bender, New Carlisle city manager.
Bender added that a key issue was the safety of city employees in the event that a medical emergency or fire would occur in Perez’s house.
“How many firefighters will want to walk into a house and be faced by a cougar?” Bender said.
But Perez said that he moved to New Carlisle specifically because city officials told him that he could live there with his pet cougar.
Bender said while officials told Perez there was no law against owning exotic animals, they were told the animal was an ocelot, a smaller wild cat than the cougar.
“(Perez) did the correct thing as far as checking with the city,” said Bender. “However, we didn’t realize it was a cougar.”
The 2-year-old, 100-pound cat is not caged, but kept under constant supervision, according to Perez, who said he has spoken to an attorney and is considering legal action.
“The more they are against me, the more determined I am to win,” he said.
The ordinance goes into effect March 8. Bender stressed that city officials are not anxious to enforce the law right away.
“We’re not going to go banging on his door,” said Bender. “We’re not picking on him, we’re just reacting to citizens’ concerns, as well as some of our emergency agencies.”
“It’s really a waste of taxpayer’s time and money,” said Perez. “There are more important things (the city) could be doing.”
For the cats,
Carole Baskin, CEO of Big Cat Rescue
an Educational Sanctuary home
to more than 100 big cats
12802 Easy Street Tampa, FL 33625
813.493.4564 fax 885.4457
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