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Hi,

I have a question about what to do if an exotic animal (say, a big cat) has escaped from its cage? It could theoretically harm someone's pet or even a human.

My question is about limiting potential harm that this animal could cause and also about limiting potential legal problems. If a person who lost the animal reports to this police or a wild animal control company or another organization, what would possible repercussions be? Particularly, if keeping such an animal may be disallowed where it was kept.

What's the best way to approach a situation like this?
 

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Herp Nerd
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If an escaped animal poses a potential danger to humans or other animals (like pet cats and dogs that may be in your area), you definitely want to contact your local police department and animal control office and inform them of the situation. Just explain the situation as calmly and thoroughly as you can. It may be rough if the animal is being kept illegally, but you really want to get out ahead of it before someone does get hurt. There are a couple reasons...

One, you want professionals out there looking for the animal, and being prepared for how they should be responding to calls from the public if they receive any. Or letting them warn the public, if that is necessary. The last thing you want is animal control blowing it off as someone just exaggerating, or not seeing what they actually saw. Or responding with deadly force when it is unnecessary. Here, I've had to respond to several calls in place of animal control, because they refused to go out on a call about a snake, assuming that it was just one of our native snakes, when it wasn't. I've also had police officers shoot snakes for absolutely no reason.

Two... well, not to be rude, but it's your fault. Even an illegally kept exotic animal is still your responsibility. If someone gets hurt, they will investigate, and no matter how you want to look at it, you are liable. If they determine where they animal came from without you coming forward, it is going to be that much worse. In the end, any illegal animal is likely to be taken away, but what else happens will depend entirely on the local laws and the severity of the situation. You really want to get out there and attempt to resolve the situation as quickly as possible without incident.
 

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Obedience training also can prevent this kind of escapes and further injuries. Your pet will learn to follow directions, respect boundaries and be gentle around your area and other animals.
 
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