File photo provided by the Royal Oak Police Department

African caracal owner cited after return to Royal Oak

By: Sarah Wojcik | Royal Oak Review | Published January 10, 2022


ROYAL OAK — One day after C & G Newspapers published an article reporting no violations of an emergency non-domestic animal moratorium, Royal Oak police responded to a report that an African caracal had escaped and was loose in the neighborhood.

Police received the call at approximately 8 p.m. Dec. 20. Responding officers quickly located the cat nearby and, with the help of its owner, returned it home in the 700 block of East La Salle Avenue, near Rochester and 13 Mile Roads.

Police issued the owner a citation for keeping non-domestic animals, a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $500 and/or 90 days in jail, and police said she agreed to surrender the cats to an out-of-state animal sanctuary.

Lt. Al Carter, of the Royal Oak Police Department, said officers returned to the home the next morning, assisted by animal control officers from Berkley, Livonia and Redford, to remove the animals.

“She ended up making arrangements for a sanctuary in Indiana,” Carter said. “She had to get them in the cages to be able to get them in the van and remove them that way.”

Carter said the owner is in the process of selling her Royal Oak house; could not keep her four African caracals where she had been staying, which was in Michigan but outside Oakland County; and that she fully intended to not keep them at her house.

He said the cat that escaped was not one of the other two that previously escaped and evaded capture for almost a day Oct. 13, but a smaller cat who does not normally get out.

“It got out the front door when she was bringing things in. She didn’t realize, and she ended up going to bed not realizing the cat got out,” Carter said. “It had gone to the neighbor on the left of her and then the neighbor on the right.”

Carter said the owner indicated that she intended to move to a property out of state with more acreage where she could keep the African caracals.

“Her intentions are good and she’s attached to these animals,” he said. “She was not trying to be deceitful by coming to Royal Oak. She was just thinking she would get some stuff out of the house quickly. Unfortunately, one got out, but it’s a blessing in disguise because she now has the proper plan.”

He said that other residents did become nervous, as African caracals are “very needy cats” whose carnivorous diets include frozen rabbits and big portions of animals that must be purchased.

The Oct. 13 incident was the third time police had gotten involved in searching for one or more of the loose caracals and, each time they escaped, the cage was unsecured as a result of human error and the owner did not report it, police said.

City Manager Paul Brake said he anticipated “this very situation,” which was the impetus behind a six-month moratorium on non-domestic animals that was included in an emergency ordinance approved and made immediately effective by the Royal Oak City Commission Nov. 8.

The move increased the penalty from a civil infraction to a misdemeanor. The moratorium will expire May 8, 2022.

“She was unaware the city placed a moratorium,” Brake said. “We’re not singling this person out.”

In the long term, the ordinance will include public input on a permanent ordinance regulating non-domestic animal ownership in residential areas.

A caracal is a medium-sized wild cat native to Africa and other regions, characterized by its strong build, long legs, short face, long canine teeth, and long, tufted ears. A police press release states that, according to the Department of Natural Resources, “this particular species does not fall under the exotic cat classification and is unregulated.”