It is not common to hear that a wildcat is running loose on the streets of Illinois. As reported in The Chicago Tribune, however, law enforcement fatally shot an exotic pet caracal that escaped from its owner’s home and went on the attack. Although an animal can’t be held liable for its harmful actions, its owner may face fines and a civil suit.
On a Sunday morning in Bloomington, a 32-year-old woman walking with her daughter through a residential neighborhood encountered the prowling caracal. It was not a friendly meeting, and the animal attacked the 6-year-old girl. When her mother attempted to stop the assault, the caracal clawed and bit at her also. The animal then tried to strike at a dog. A neighbor who captured the overly aggressive cat on video called law enforcement. When the caracal began acting erratically toward a group of bystanders that gathered around to watch, officers quickly shot and killed it.
At the hospital, the girl and her mother were treated for bite marks and scratches. Authorities tracked down the caracal’s owner and issued multiple citations for allegedly violating the local pet ordinances. Illinois requires its residents to register their exotic or non-domesticated pets. Although owning certain breeds of imported wildcats are illegal, a healthy caracal may be permitted when it is approved by an Animal Health official.
The Illinois Dangerous Animal Act requires registration of exotic pets so that authorities may track down their owners if they unexpectedly leave their home and roam the streets. Fines may be imposed by city or county officials, and in circumstances where the animal attacks a person, the owner might be held responsible for any injuries.