Caged cougar bites Newark social worker
at Evelyn Shaw’s home in Pataskala, OH
Social worker was assessing home for child placement; charges not filed
According to a Pataskala police report, Evelyn Shaw, who lives at 13262 Cleveland Road, was showing an employee from Licking County Job and Family Services, identified as Cindy K. Robson, 51, of Newark, around her home.
Robson was there, according to the police report, to assess the home to place two children there.
Shaw took Robson to her backyard, where Shaw keeps a mountain lion in a cage. Shaw reportedly told the social worker the mountain lion had no teeth, according to the police report, but when Robson was walking next to the cage, the mountain lion bit one of her fingers, drawing blood, according to the report.
Robson and Shaw then went to Mount Carmel East Hospital, where Robson was treated and released.
Police reported the incident to Bill Bullard, the state wildlife officer and supervisor in charge of six counties, including Licking County.
Pataskala Police, as of Tuesday, had not filed any charges related to the case. Police Chief Bruce Brooks said charges might be unlikely if Robson stuck her hand inside or near the mountain lion’s cage.
John Fisher, director of Licking County Job and Family Services, said Tuesday he was aware of the incident. Fisher said he could not comment on why Robson was at home because of privacy laws, but according to a 10TV report, Shaw is seeking custody of her two 3-year-old nieces.
“What you have in the police report is basically what you have,” he said.
Fisher did say social workers have had run-ins with dogs but not mountain lions.
“We’ve ran into situations with dogs and other animals you’d expect, but nothing with this type of situation before,” said Fisher, adding Robson had not returned to work Tuesday.
Bullard, meanwhile, said current state law places exotic animal oversight in the hands of the local sheriff’s offices, and the Licking County Sheriff’s Office had been sent a copy of the Pataskala Police report on the incident.
Gov. John Kasich signed a new exotic animals bill earlier this month that will place the oversight of exotic animals in the hands of the Ohio Department of Agriculture, Bullard said.
Senate Bill 310, which Kasich signed, requires the owners of large cats, bears and other exotic animals to register them by Jan. 1, 2014. It also requires background checks for owners, the purchase of liability insurance or surety bonds and mandates owners properly contain their exotic animals.
Owners also must post signs warning people exotic animals are on their property.
Shaw has expressed her opposition to the bill in hearings.
A board member for the U.S. Zoological Association and Uniting a Politically Proactive Exotic Animal League, she long has been a proponent of exotic animal ownership and has helped agencies track down escaped exotic animals.
In 2003, two of her African servals escaped from her home. The cats, which looked like small cheetahs and are relatively small and timid, prompted a search, led by police, according to Advocate archives.
The pair eventually ran in front of passing traffic, were struck and died from their injuries.
Since that time, Shaw has spoken on several occasions before Pataskala City Council in opposition to placing greater restrictions on the ownership of exotic animals.
Shaw did not return calls from The Advocate requesting comment.