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Owner takes exotic cat to Rockingham County

by Jordan Green

An exotic cat captured in the Fisher Park neighborhood of Greensboro on Oct. 10 received an official escort to a new home in Rockingham County three days later.

Marsha Williams, director of the Guilford County Animal Shelter on West Wendover Avenue, said the animal ‘— a small to medium sized cat known as a serval ‘— was released to his owner Megan Morris on the afternoon of Oct. 13.

‘“It is illegal to have an exotic animal in Guilford County,’” she said. ‘“[Morris] was escorted by Animal Control to take it to another county where it’s legal to have exotic animals. She was going to take it to the vet until she can find a home for it there.’”

Morris works at James Landing Veterinary Hospital in Jamestown. A fellow hospital employee said Morris was out on Oct. 13; attempts to contact her at home were unsuccessful.

Tim Poole, a drummer who plays in the Greensboro band Suckerpunch, said Morris’ serval should be considered a public danger. He said he and a friend watched the cat, named Saber, for Morris, and both had frightening encounters. He estimated that the cat weighs 65 or 70 pounds.

Poole said Saber was crouched on top of a refrigerator behind a stack of boxes one day when he took the cat by surprise.

‘“When I opened the refrigerator he swiped at me and swatted the boxes and I went reeling backwards,’” he said. ‘“I literally felt the air go past my face. I literally fell backwards and went scrambling out the backdoor.’”

His friend wasn’t so lucky.

‘“When he smacked her in the face that one time he blacked her eye pretty good,’” he said. ‘“If he had claws I reckon he would have just ripped her face open.’”

While there were no reports of Saber acting aggressively before he was captured, Poole said he believes there might have been a tragic turn of events had a child taken the animal by surprise.

‘“When we were taking care of it, it would hide and pounce at you,’” he said. ‘“It’s a wild animal. If there’d been a child ‘— you don’t ever know what a kid’s going to do ‘— that cat would have killed a child. That cat would have attacked, and you can’t convince me otherwise.’”

John Blatche, the animal control supervisor for the Guilford County Department of Health, who accompanied Morris to Rockingham County, said he was not pressing charges against the cat’s owner.

Why?

‘“Because it was an honest mistake,’” he said. ‘“When the animal got loose she didn’t know that it was against the law to have exotic animals in Guilford County.’”

Lt. Brian James said the Greensboro Police Department also did not press charges against the owner, and indicated that the matter fell under the jurisdiction of Guilford County since the county took custody of the animal.

Guilford County code states that it’s against the law to allow animals to ‘“create a public nuisance or public danger by running at large’” or to keep a dangerous, wild animal on one’s premises. The fine for the first violation of allowing an animal to run at large is $25 while the fine for the first violation of keeping wild animals without a permit is $50.

Blatche declined to say whether Morgan was fined or issued a citation.

To comment on this story, e-mail Jordan Green at jordan@yesweekly.com

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