HOUSTON (CN) – A woman who let her three pet tigers have the run of her Houston home alongside her teenage daughter was charged with felony child endangerment after her arrest last week in Nevada.
A Texas game warden went to the Houston house of Trisha Denise Meyer, 34, on Sept. 25 and saw three tiger cubs and a skunk running loose inside and Meyer’s 14-year-old daughter petting the cats, according to an affidavit written by a Houston police officer who accompanied the game warden to the house.
Meyer told the officers the tigers “at their current ages were dangerous and could kill,” and admitted she had also kept an adult male tiger, a fox and a cougar in the home and let them roam freely while her daughter was there, according to the Nov. 10 affidavit.
“Defendant also has several monkeys which defendant stated can be vicious and one in particular has attacked other people. Defendant told officers that she usually keeps her animals out roaming around the house. Defendant says she only locks the tigers up when she is away from home. It should be noted that the defendant home schools her children,” the charging document states.
The law enforcement officers went to Meyer’s home after a California man reported that he responded in August to Meyer’s online advertisement for a Savannah kitten and wired her $3,000 for the cat, court records show.
Savannah cats are a cross between a house cat and a serval, a wild African cat that has large ears and grows to the size of a small dog.
Meyer reportedly told the man she would ship the cat on a United Airlines flight from Houston to San Jose, Calif. and it would arrive on Aug. 20.
The cat didn’t arrive that day and Meyer told the buyer the cat was sick and she was taking it to a friend who would help it recover, before admitting to him she didn’t ship the cat because it’s illegal to have them in California, according to a Nov. 3 affidavit charging Meyer with felony theft.
The buyer contacted an animal services manager for the City of Fremont, Calif., who told him Savannah cats are legal in California, the charging document states.
The man reported Meyer to Houston police and an officer interviewed Meyer, who said she told the man she agreed to send him another breed of cat that was legal in California. But the man told Houston police Meyer never offered to return his $3,000 or send him a replacement cat, leading Harris County prosecutors to charge Meyer with felony theft, according to court records.
Meyer took all her animals with her to Las Vegas after the game warden interviewed her at her Houston house and she was arrested in Pahrump, Nevada, on Nov. 7, the Houston Chronicle reported.
The tigers were taken from Meyer upon her arrest. She is expected to be extradited to Houston this week and arraigned on felony child endangerment and theft charges.
Meyer faces up to four years in prison and a $20,000 fine if convicted of both charges.
Meyer’s landlord told the Chronicle he evicted her after police told him about the tigers in the house.