Ashland couple, 5 tigers to stay

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Ashland couple, 5 tigers to stay

August 20, 2009
News Journal

ASHLAND — Jose and Denise Flores — and their five tigers — are staying put.

In 2006, Jose and Denise opened Tiger Paw Exotic Rescue Center, 820 Ohio 511, north of Ashland. Jose was laid off in February, and the couple soon fell so far behind on their mortgage payments their house was set for sheriff’s sale Monday.

But MidFirst Bank has notified Ashland County Common Pleas Court of its intent to withdraw the property from sale.

“We’re kind of resting easy,” Denise Flores said. “It’s been so draining physically and mentally. You don’t realize what your body goes through with stress.”

Tina Carpenter, civil judicial assistant with the court, said attorney Rebecca Shrader of the Columbus law firm Manley Deas Kochalski LLC sent a fax on behalf of MidFirst Bank as a courtesy notification.

“It’s not official until the judge (Deborah Woodward) signs it,” Carpenter said.

Ted Manley, a partner in the firm, declined to elaborate, saying it was company policy not to comment on pending litigation.

Jose and Denise are hoping to adjust their mortgage payments. Denise said Midland Mortgage is having the couple print out statements for how much it costs to care for the tigers for three months, as well as any donations the rescue receives.

The couple spends $139 every 10 days on chicken for the five tigers, which they have raised since they were cubs. Jose and Denise adopted four of the tigers when they lived in Texas, where they worked for various wildlife parks and rescue organizations. The fifth cub was born to two of the tigers they adopted.

“We went through a lot just to prove that nothing was going to happen here,” Denise said. “We’ve been in this kind of rescue business and worked for other rescue organizations. We’ve never had an escape. We’ve never had an injury.”

The couple’s devotion to the welfare of the tigers made the prospect of losing them all the more painful.

“Monday night, Jose said to me he was throwing in the towel,” Denise said. “He didn’t believe that we would get anywhere.”

The next morning, they received word the sheriff’s sale had been canceled.

News coverage has helped. If Jose and Denise had lost their home, a Jeromesville couple had offered a place for them and their tigers to stay.

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