Monday, April 23, 2012

Ozzi's Story

While we were enjoying our Easter Celebration, a dire situation was unfolding several hundred  miles away from us. The following account was provided to us by one family involved in this incident—this was a real story involving two families, Texas county law enforcement officers, a  veterinarian, and Ozzi—a 3-year old lynx.

Meet Ozzi, a handsome lynx, who was born and raised in Montana. Ozzi was owned by a family whom we will call the “Smiths”. The Smiths raised Ozzi from the time he was a tiny cub. Ozzi was well-known in this Montana town as he was often seen traveling in the family car, attending outdoor sporting events, such as soccer games, with family and friends. This exotic cat was loved by his family and many admirers.

A few months ago, the Smiths (parents and teen aged son) decided to move to Texas in search of better employment opportunities. Before making the big move, the Smiths contacted two cities in Texas to determine what they would need to do to legally move Ozzi from Montana to Texas. An import license and ownership permit was obtained, so the family was ready to relocate to their new home with their beloved lynx.

The Smiths quickly settled into their new home, got to know some of the local neighbors, befriending one particular family whom we will call the “Andersons."

The Andersons family met and spent some time with the Smiths’ lynx. Seeing no reason why their teen aged boy should not play with this beautiful cat, the parents allowed their son to stay at the Smith’s house quite often. Ozzi was house trained, up-to-date on his vaccinations, and loved to play with the boys.

Early Saturday morning, the boys were playing with Ozzi when the cats’ tooth accidentally scrapped the Anderson teen aged son’s arm, causing a small scratch that slightly bled for a few moments. The boys, thinking nothing was amiss, continued playing with the lynx until it was time for the Andersons’ son to return home.

When the older sister arrived to pick up her brother, she noticed the teenager’s scrap on his arm; she asked him how he obtained the scratch. The boy told her he and his friend was playing with Ozzi when the accident occurred—that the scratch was nothing.

Concerned for her brother’s well-being, the daughter drove her brother to the hospital so he could receive a tetanus shot, just as a precautionary measure. When the hospital staff questioned the boy how he obtained the scratch, it was mentioned that it was a lynx's  tooth that accidentally scrapped his arm, causing the scratch.

Whenever a hospital staff member receives word that a person is seeking treatment for either a “scratch or bite” from a wild animal, an incident report must be made to animal control. The hospital contacted the County Animal Control and an officer was dispatched.

The hospital staff and the animal control officer questioned the boy as to the whereabouts of the animal that “scratched him.” Scared for Ozzi, the teenager tried to explain that the tooth accidentally scrapped him—the animal was not dangerous and he did not want to get Ozzi into any trouble—he refused to disclose Ozzi’s location. The hospital kept the boy for 24-hours until his sister gave up the whereabouts of the animal. The older sister did not want to see her brother questioned over and over again by law enforcement.

With Ozzi’s home address in the hands of law enforcement, it was not long before the Smiths received a visit from the Animal Control and a local police officer, demanding that they immediately relinquish Ozzi to Animal Control.

According to the Smiths, the police and animal control officers told them that if they did not relinquish Ozzi, they would be arrested and face criminal charges. It was made clear to the Smiths by these officers that the Andersons were prepared to file charges against them if they did not turn the lynx over to them.

The Smiths, not knowing their rights about relinquishing Ozzi to authorities, ended complying with the officers’ demands. Little Ozzi, who had never been placed in a cat carrier before, was forced into this small confining space and taken to a local veterinarian hospital by his owners while animal control and the police officer waited for him and the vet hospital.

At this point, the officers apparently told the Smiths that they had to sign euthanasia paperwork so Ozzi could be destroyed and have his head removed so it could be tested for rabies in Austin, Texas. The Smiths told the vet and the officers that this was not necessary as Ozzi received his annual rabies shots and they were current for the year.

They later learned that the emergency veterinarian declared the arm scrapping incident as a wild animal “attack” against the teenager.

The officers told the Smiths that if they did not sign the paperwork and pay the euthanasia fee (yes, you read that right, the officer and vet wanted the Smiths to pay them so they could kill their beloved animal), they would be charged with “endangerment to a child”, arrested, and taken to jail. The officers made it clear to the Smiths that the Andersons wanted to file a complaint against them.

Distraught, the Smiths frantically tried to reach us to see if we could take Ozzi Saturday afternoon. They hoped that if In-Sync Exotics accepted the lynx, Ozzi’s life would be spared. Unfortunately, the calls came in during our Easter Celebration and by the time Vicky was able to return the frantic phone calls, Ozzi was already dead.

The Smiths are very distraught over the senseless death of their young, handsome lynx. The Andersons’ teen aged son was inconsolable as he felt the death of the lynx was his fault. Sadly, the friendship between the two families has been severed due to the stress and heartache over Ozzi’s death. So far as it seems, the Andersons had no intentions of filing a complaint against the Smiths. It appears the animal control officer and the city police lied to the Smiths, and are now saying that the Andersons have 30 days to “change their minds” and sue the Smiths for damages; imparting this comment right after the veterinarian euthanized Ozzi.

What was most upsetting to the Smiths was the fact that the Animal Control refused to return Ozzi’s body to the family so he could be cremated.

We wanted you to know this incident because we did not want Ozzi’s story to be forgotten. We do not know if Ozzi was killed as a backlash from the ZanesvilleOhio wild animal tragedy, or simply because the animal control and police officers did not know the proper procedure in seizing non-dangerous animals.

The Smiths could not understand why didn't animal control wound not allow Ozzi to remain in their home or at an animal shelter, quarantined until the facts of the case could be heard in a court of law instead of a court held by an animal control and police officer, who served as both judge and jury.

While we do not advocate that just "anyone" be allowed to own a wild or domestic animal, we do believe that if private owners obey all local, state and federal laws and provide a safe  environment for their animal(s), they should have the constitutional right of due process in cases where animals are deemed “dangerous” by animal control officers. 

On behalf of the In-Sync Exotics staff, we want to express our condolences to Ozzi’s family for the loss of the beloved lynx. He was a beautiful animal and it’s heartbreaking that something like this could happen in the Lone Star State.

We are so much better than that, aren’t we?



  1. Learning of the lack of laws in Texas regarding the breeding and neglect of big cats to the point of starvation and death, THIS situation is appalling! Let's safeguard the monsters who do despicable things to these beautiful animals, yet cut short the life of a beloved pet whose owners did EVERYTHING according to the letter of the law. My heart and tears go out to that distraught family.

  2. It's so awful! :-(
    How and why people can be like that...

  3. I am so sorry to hear this. I think the officer should be help responsible for his actions. It is very acurate to say that the officer played the judge and jury on this one. My heart goes out to the Smith family.

  4. How terrible! This should never have happened if the family had all the necessary paperwork. I am so sorry for the "Smith" family.

  5. This story needs to be shouted loud and clear! Justice for Ozzie and let us not let his death be in vain. While this is of no consolation to the family, it may bring the spotlight as to what has been happening all over the US to exotic animal owners that are legal and abiding ALL RULES/REGS and STILL being victimized!

  6. This story is awful, and hits a little too close to my 'scared of' feelings regarding my animals. People are too quick to jump to the absolute worst possible outcomes, LE is too quick to try to throw their weight around and be the 'big man.' Nothing about this story should have gone the way it did, and an innocent, LEGAL animal paid the price.

    P.S. Sheila, TX actually has fairly strict laws regarding ownership of exotic cats. Some counties outright ban them, some require special registrations, some require federal licenses. Also, TX has animal abuse laws in place - if people are neglecting their legal pets, it's up to LE to enforce those laws. However, this is not a case of LE enforcing abuse laws, but abusing "power."

  7. Oh dear gods this is such a tragic story. I am so sorry for Ozzi that ignorant, scared, uneducated humans proved his demise. Rest well Ozzi, may you frolic wild & free over the Rainbow Bridge.

  8. I would take the jerks to court and take them for all they have and embaress the SOB'S .the Vet.and law inforcement they don't care about the Animals all they care about is the all mighty dollar They MURDERED A CARING LOVING ANIMAL OZZI .I am so sorry for the loss of such a beautyful loving cat ,I love his coloring and I can see how much he loved his family.

  9. The officer was following the law. There is no quarantine for exotic animals. There is no vaccine proven to protect exotic animals so the law says they must be killed and tested if there is a bite or scratch. This is the law in every state. Only animals that are spared are those proven in a long laboratory study that the vaccine works AND how long before symptoms show and they shed the virus. They need to give rabies to animals in a lab and watch them die to prove how long a quarantine will be safe. This costs millions. They managed to to this for ferrets because so many own them. They tried it for skunks and it failed not enough people own them or wanted to pay. The drug companies wont pay because it costs more than they would make from each species.

    Everyone who has an exotic needs to know this.

    1. They need to change the laws. This will only cause the responsible owners to go underground to protect their beloved pets.

    2. Really, you stick up for that stupid,jerk-off, officer? Whats wrong with you!!!???

    3. No, Im saying the laws are ridiculous and need to be changed so this doesn't happen (the stupid cop didn't even know the laws). It seems that the pet owners who are honest and open and do the right thing by following the rules getting permits are the one that suffer the most. If you hide them and no one knows you have them they are much better off.

  10. This is CRAZY!!!!! I can't belive it! That officer should at least gave them a chance to try again. Honestly, I'm REALLY feed up with the crap thats be happening in Texas. I feel like moving to somewhere else. But i won't because I would be leaving the reason I'm living here, In-sync Exotics. Thank you for sharing this story.

  11. OMG!!! I hate Texas!!!
    "I'm saying the laws are ridiculous and need to be changed so this doesn't happen (the stupid cop didn't even know the laws). It seems that the pet owners who are honest and open and do the right thing by following the rules getting permits are the one that suffer the most. If you hide them and no one knows you have them they are much better off." SO TRUE!!!

  12. This is so wrong!!!

  13. I would be very interested in the sum of qualifications of the "emergency veterinarian". Not just a diploma and certification, but his/her entire track record.

    Something about this emits an ... 'aroma'.

    1. It doesn't surprise me. I was in a similar situation by a humane society that performed multiple proccedures to my cat that had become lost and was found and he was tracked to me by his microchip. He was extremely underweight due to his failing health and lack of food. I faxed them paperwork that supported the cat had serious health problems. They forced my hand to agree on multiple evasive treatments or face penalties. I brought him home after 5 months being lost only to have him die.
      Animal control and the Humane Society throws their weight around and bullies people into doing things that they can legally deny. They abuse their power and people donate money to them with no clue what happens in these facilities. It is sad.