Father of Dallas Cowboy’s RB Facing Charges After Illegal Serval Cat Attacks Neighbor’s Dog
OutdoorHub Reporters 12.18.19
The Dallas Cowboys have had a roller coaster season this year, yet here they are battling to win the NFC East and make the NFL playoffs with a win against the Philadelphia Eagles this Sunday. Meanwhile, the father of the team’s star running back, Ezekiel Elliot, is dealing with his own legal battle after he allegedly illegally owned and released a wild African cat that attacked a neighbor’s dog and had to be euthanized by police.
According to The Columbus Dispatch, Stacy Elliott (aka Stacy El-Muhammad), faces 21 charges – including allowing a dangerous wild animal to escape, failure to notify of a dangerous wild animal escape and possession of a dangerous wild animal – from the Ohio Department of Agriculture and a number of other Ohio and local agencies.
Fairfield County deputies responded to a call Sunday afternoon when a resident claimed a bobcat was attacking their dog. When officers arrived to the scene, they saw the wild cat, determined it was a threat and shot it.
The dog survived the attack, officials reported.
The cat, however, turned out not to be bobcat and was later identified by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources as a serval, a species of wild cat native to Africa. They are small, slender animals with long legs, a small head and two huge ears – in fact, they have the largest ears of any species of cat. They also have a really cool and unique coat with black lines and spots.
El-Muhammad denied ownership of the serval when he was originally questioned about the animal, according to the Dispatch. But investigators were able to trace the cat back to El-Muhammad using data from a microchip that showed he was the person who purchased the serval, as well as “significant evidence” collected during a search of Elliott’s home.
Additionally, WSYX reports neighbors have spotted other strange animals roaming their neighborhood recently.
“An extraordinarily large black fox had popped up on our back porch here last week,” said Jim Zuber, one of the neighbors who originally saw the serval cat in his yard earlier this fall.
In Ohio, it is a first-degree misdemeanor to possess a wild animal without a permit, and a fifth-degree felony to intentionally release an exotic animal and allow it to escape. The serval’s body was recovered and transferred to the Agriculture Department for a necropsy.
If he is convicted on the misdemeanor counts alone, Stacy El-Muhammad would face at least six months in jail and $1,000 in fines – which could be multiplied by the number of charges.