Cougar case growls into court with filing of suit

Cougar case growls into court with filing of suit
By MOLLY MOORHEAD, Times Staff Writer
Published July 19, 2006

DADE CITY – The great cougar caper continues.
The owner of a wildlife sanctuary in Spring Hill is suing his estranged wife,
alleging she stole a South American cougar from the property, tried to make
off with a Bengal tiger and froze an $80,000 account the sanctuary needs to
keep running. 

Wildlife Survival Sanctuary president Jim Moore is seeking more than $15,000
in damages against his estranged wife, Lisa Schafer, according to the suit
filed Tuesday. The suit also names Wachovia Bank, which froze the sanctuary’s
account amid the controversy.
Moore wants a judge to order Schafer to give the cougar back, block her from
the sanctuary property and order the bank to release the sanctuary’s money to
Moore alone.
Sheriff’s deputies were called July 6 to the Blooming Road sanctuary to
investigate a report of a stolen cougar. The Sheriff’s Office has not released an
incident report or made any arrests.
But Schafer told the Times she was concerned the animals were not being well
cared for. She and at least two other people went to the sanctuary while
Moore was away and loaded Sheene, the cougar, into a cage. They tried to get
Misty, the tiger, off the property too, but someone called 911 first.
Schafer took Sheene to another refuge near Orlando.
In his lawsuit, Moore characterizes his ex-wife’s actions very differently.
He says Schafer “and her cohorts” took the cougar and some equipment and left
the gates open so another man, Douglas Rosen, could come later for more
animals.
When Rosen came, the suit says, he shot Misty with a tranquilizer that is
potentially fatal to tigers. The dose left Misty with stiff legs and convulsing
uncontrollably, the suit says. She is recovering and remains at the
sanctuary.
The feud quickly found its way to the bank, where Moore moved sanctuary funds
into a new account after discovering Schafer and her boyfriend tried to
withdraw money, the suit says. Since then, Wachovia has frozen the account until
the matter is resolved.
The lawsuit concludes with an impassioned plea: “If Schafer is not stopped
now, every last cat will eventually be stolen … and (the) sanctuary will be
forced to close its doors forever, thus depriving Pasco County, the State of
Florida and the United States of America of a truly treasured site.”
[Last modified July 18, 2006, 22:45:57]
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(http://www.sptimes.com/2006/07/19/Pasco/Cougar_case_growls_in.shtml)

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