Authorities are determining whether the NFL star's dad owned the unregistered serval cat

By Benjamin VanHoose
October 17, 2019 02:26 PM
Serval cat
Credit: Getty

The father of Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott could potentially be in hot water after an incident involving a rampaging serval cat.

A search warrant was issued for the home of Stacy Elliott on Wednesday morning, with investigators trying to figure out where an exotic cat set loose in an Ohio neighborhood originated from.

Over the weekend, the medium-sized cat was seen roaming a community in Fairfield County, causing concerns among nearby neighbors. “We thought we were keeping an eye on it and the truth is it was more stalking us,” Jim Zuber, a neighbor who watched the cat prowl his front lawn, told WBNS-10TV.

Shelby Croft — a spokesperson for the Ohio Department of Agriculture, which issued the warrant — tells PEOPLE the investigation is still ongoing, but that the charge for owning a serval without a permit is a first-degree misdemeanor, and the charge for intentionally allowing a dangerous wild animal to escape is a fifth-degree felony. No charges have been made at this time.

Ezekiel Elliott with his mom Dawn and father Stacy
Ezekiel Elliott with his mom Dawn and father Stacy
| Credit: Kena Krutsinger/Getty

Authorities from the Fairfield County Sheriff’s Department arrived on the scene Sunday, which ended with the deputies shooting and killing the serval after it attempted to attack a local dog.

Chief Deputy Alex Lape told WBNS-10TV he’s encountered exotic animals in his jurisdiction in the past, and that situations like this can prove dangerous as the scared creature can be unpredictable in the unnatural habitat.

“I don’t know how long it had been out [or] when it had last eaten, but over time they’re going to resort back to their normal behaviors,” Lape said.

Serval cats are native to Africa, and can reach up to 23 inches in length and weigh nearly 40 pounds, according to the African Wildlife Foundation. The felines, which have an acute sense of hearing, typically prey on rodents, birds, reptiles, frogs and bugs.

The decision to shoot the cat rather than tranquilize the animal was made because of a lack of proper equipment to keep the situation safe, according to WBNS-10TV.