Houston got an unwelcome surprise Sunday night when a tiger was seen prowling around the front yard of a Fleetwood home. Ivy Wall Drive residents spotted the animal and called law enforcement officers while recording footage of the tiger as it explored the grassy yard.
The incident occurred around 8 p.m. A neighbor was taking a stroll when the resident was startled by the animal, which had a collar around its neck like a pet. But tigers aren’t allowed as pets in Houston, despite Texas law allowing them.
A deputy of the local sheriff’s department, who is part of the neighborhood, responded quickly to the report that a tiger was roaming the community. The deputy, who has not been identified, says he unholstered his service weapon and pointed it at the animal to protect himself and others.
The alleged owner of the tiger leapt out from the house and begged the deputy not to shoot. The man was described as a Hispanic man in his 20s, but his name has not been revealed. He then mounted the tiger and kissed it on its head, before pulling it back into the home by its collar.
It didn’t take long for the man to leave once more with the tiger in tow. He loaded the large animal into his truck and sped off just as police finally arrived, according to the Waller Country deputy. It was confirmed that investigators identified the man that escaped, but have not released his name. The Houston Police Department’s Major Crime Unit is currently investigating the situation.
The alleged tiger owner’s landlord has explained that the man did not announce that he was going to have pets in the house when signing the lease. He also didn’t pay the required pet deposit. The landlord is in the process of evicting the man, though it is unknown whether he has more animals inside the house.
A few months ago, Jose Ramos, another neighbor claimed he saw a monkey in the window of the same Houston home. He called the police and posted on the community blog warning of the exotic animal.
Private ownership of exotic animals, especially tigers, is illegal in the city of Houston, and police will likely charge the man with possessing an illegal animal. It is unknown what will happen to the tiger, but Wayne Pacelle, the president of Animal Wellness said that “these animals belong in the wild or in reputable sanctuaries or zoos and nowhere else.”
Pacelle continued, calling for an end to private ownership of exotic animals. “This epidemic of private ownership of these exotic animals must be put to a swift end before more animals die and more people are injured or killed.” It seems like something out of Netflix’s Tiger King, which became wildly popular at the beginning of quarantine last year.