SEARCY, Ark. – The claws are coming out between the City of Searcy and a family over a pet bobcat. According to a city ordinance, you can not have a wild animal that is incapable of being fully domesticated inside the city limits. The family argues their pet is fully domesticated.
Joe Ellis says his bobcat Booger is just like any other pet. He feeds him, plays with him, and even cuddles up on the couch with him.
“He slept in the bed with me, hung out in the recliner when I watched tv, and just hung out with me. Just like someone would have a pet dog, I have a pet bobcat,” Ellis said.
Now, he is in danger of losing his feline companion. Searcy Mayor Kyle Osborne said someone called and complained about the bobcat.
“When someone in their neighborhood calls and reports this, the police and animal control have to respond,” Osborne said.
Ellis said Animal Control did come check on their bobcat.
“They did not have a problem or see an issue because of his enclosure and how I have him kept,” Ellis said.
Just a few days later, however, they came back.
“And issued a citation,” Ellis said.
According to the Searcy city ordinance, you can not have any wild animals inside the city limits. That is defined by “an animal incapable of being completely domesticated and requiring the exercise of art, force or skill to keep it in subjugation.”
“I think the language of the ordinance is pretty broad and it can be interpreted multiple ways,” Ellis said.
Now bobcats are not specifically called out in the ordinance but Mayor Osborne says several on the council are worried the claws could come out.
“It could possibly become vicious. Not to say that their bobcat would but there’s a possibility,” Osborne said.
The Ellis’ say Booger is harmless and invite anyone who doubts that to come see for themselves.
“He’s just a cat. He’s not much bigger than a normal household cat,” Joe’s wife Hillary said.
“He’s not going to harm anyone. He’s more scared of you than you are of him,” Joe said.
Since Ellis did get a citation, it is now up to the court system to decide who is right and wrong. If the court sides with the city, Ellis will have to get rid of his bobcat and pay a fine.