On Sunday, a neighborhood in Houston, was treated to a bit of a wild scene. A Bengal tiger was out, creeping through a yard and setting the neighbors on high alert.
Residents took photos and an alert ran through an online neighborhood group warning others in the area of the large cat on the prowl.
At some point, a man — later identified as off-duty sheriff’s department sergeant Wes Manion, according to KPRC-TV — arrived and pointed a gun at the cat.
A tiger was spotted on the loose in a Houston neighborhood Sunday night! @CBS8 #Houston #tiger pic.twitter.com/KF2oI1Lxe4
— Jenny Milkowski (@jennymilk) May 10, 2021
A man ran out of the house and up to the tiger, which appeared to belong to him, asking Manion not to shoot.
“He came up to the tiger himself and leaned down and kissed the tiger, and then took him by his collar,” one neighbor said.
It “was very intense,” Luke Rodrigue, another neighbor, said. “Even though it might be tame or docile, it’s still a tiger. It’s still a wild animal. You never know what’s going to happen.”
The Houston Police Department received multiple calls about the feline.
“This is about a tiger,” one Houston police dispatcher said in a call obtained by Broadcastify, according to KHOU-TV. “I’m on the phone with the caller, who is a sheriff’s department sergeant, and he’s holding the owner, and the owner is trying to leave.”
Yet another neighbor, Jose Ramos, said he’s seen curious creatures around the house before: Months ago, he claimed to have seen a monkey peeking out one of the house’s windows.
Shortly after the suspected owner led the cat back into the house, he brought it out again and loaded it into a white SUV and drove off. Police attempted to follow him, but lost him after a short while.
According to what Commander Borza said during a news briefing on Monday, owning a tiger is against city ordinance. Owning small monkeys, however, is not, and the police department believes the man with the tiger also owns two monkeys.
“What I don’t want him to do is harm the tiger,” Borza said in a news conference. “We have plenty of places we can take that tiger and keep it safe, and give it a home for the rest of its life. A lot of time, people get desperate and do silly things. We want to get him and get the tiger to a safe place.”
A *TIGER* yep, you read that right.. CAUGHT ON CAM found roaming loose in a W. #Houston neighborhood.
Right now, we don’t know WHERE it is.
Neighbors say the big cat’s owner took off w/ it in an SUV, after it was spotted yesterday.
Here’s what we know so far. @KHOU #HTownRush pic.twitter.com/9XBslXV0TR
— Michelle Choi (@MichelleKHOU) May 10, 2021
On May 11, the owner was identified as 26-year-old Victor Hugo Cuevas, who was arrested Monday evening, according to CBS News. While he was found, the tiger was not.
Cuevas was renting the house he was seen taking the tiger into, and the landlord said he’d denied having any pets. The landlord has begun the eviction process.
“Private citizens and emergency responders should not have to come face to face with a lion or a tiger in a crisis,” Wayne Pacelle, president of Animal Wellness Action, said, according to KPRC.
“These animals belong in the wild or in reputable sanctuaries or zoos and nowhere else. 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.”
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