Family member: Seized tiger was not mistreated

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 21, 2003

A family member who owned a confiscated tiger said Monday that he would fight to get the pet back, asserting the tiger has neither harmed anybody nor been mistreated.

Albert Lea police last week raided a house at 425 College St. and seized the female baby tiger because the owners did not have a permit for possessing the wild animal.

&uot;She did not bite (anybody). She was like a house cat,&uot; said William Diaz, Jr., 17. &uot;I just want the city to give her back to me.&uot;

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The Siberian tiger, named Ana, is two months old, Diaz said.

He said he got her from Tiger Zone, a tiger farm in Goodhue County. The tiger was given to his 15-year-old sister.

City Attorney Steve Schwab is likely to bring charges on a city ordinance violation today, which requires an appropriate facility for public safety and animal welfare to have a wild animal, including a tiger.

Diaz said that he has a place outside the city where the tiger can be kept. He had brought the tiger from that county location after the new year just to let her stay inside the house during the winter, and planned to move her back in the spring, Diaz explained. The county does not have regulations on a wild animal kept as a pet.

Diaz said he is in the process of obtaining a permit from the city. &uot;They got a rule. We’ve got to obey. But, I didn’t know we needed to have a permit.&uot;

Schwab has sent the tiger to a specialized facility in the Twin Cities area to examine weather there are any traces of mistreatment, which a state law prohibits. If Diaz were convicted of the state statute, the tiger would likely be in permanent custody.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), a Virginia-based animal rights organization, pointed out a collar was embedded in the tiger’s neck. But, Diaz said the collar is adjustable with enough room for her to grow.

PETA also emphasized the past record of William Diaz, Sr., who has also lived in the house, saying it indicates the family’s inability to provide appropriate care for the tiger. Diaz, Sr. was barred from having a pet by the court in October 2001 as a penalty for a cruelty-to-animals conviction. However, Diaz said his father is not living at the residence anymore. And the tiger is under his sister’s ownership.

Diaz contended the tiger was in good shape, eating three pieces of chicken a day. He also said at the time of purchase, the tiger received all appropriate injections for diseases and had the nails on its front paws taken out so that she would not harm people.