A neighbor said a man claiming to be the owner "kissed the tiger and then took him by his collar" after startling onlookers

By Benjamin VanHoose
May 10, 2021 11:38 AM
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tiger
Tiger
| Credit: Getty

A loose tiger roamed a Houston neighborhood Sunday night before the suspected owner wrangled the animal away.

According to KHOU, the big cat — which was wearing a collar — was spotted by neighbors strolling and lounging in a front yard unaccompanied. Witnesses caught the moment on camera, including in one video where people can be heard saying, "it's somebody's pet," and noting the moment someone approached the animal with a gun.

"He brought a gun," says one person in the video, watching from behind a window. Another says, "Don't kill it!"

The outlet reports that the man with the gun was an off-duty law enforcement official who aimed the weapon at the animal as the suspected owner took the tiger inside the house. Onlookers told KHOU that the suspected owner put the animal in a vehicle and transported it elsewhere.

A neighbor said, according to KPRC, that they noticed the free-roaming tiger just before 8 p.m. local time, adding that the man who claimed to be the owner said "Don't shoot!" before he "came up to the tiger himself and leaned down and kissed the tiger, and then took him by his collar."

A spokesperson for the Houston Police Department tells PEOPLE they received a call about a tiger around 9 p.m. local time on Sunday. A witness said they saw the suspect take the tiger, put it in a white Jeep Cherokee, and flee the scene. Officers were able to initiate a vehicle pursuit with the suspect but eventually lost visual and discontinued the pursuit.

"We're looking for the suspect," the police spokesperson says, noting that it is an ongoing investigation.

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Another neighbor named Jose Ramos told reporters about the situation and explained why he called the police and alerted online local message boards about the potential danger.

"It was very scary," he said, "because this a very family-oriented community and you see lots of kids and baby-strolling, and people taking their pets and walking them, so the first thing I thought was to alert the community so everybody would stay home."