'IT'S PRETTY BIG': Tiger rescue at vacant Houston home began with anonymous tip

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Thursday, February 14, 2019
Anonymous tipster only wanted the Tiger safe
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Anonymous tipster only wanted the Tiger safe

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- As a Texas sanctuary restores a tiger's health and safety, a 311 call transcript reveals how a tipster encountered the caged animal at a run down vacant home in southeast Houston.

On Monday, Houston police investigators came to the home on Avenue J to rescue the large cat. The very next day, the big feline arrived at Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch in Murchison.

After the initial call to 311, animal officials responded to the house and said they could smell and hear something inside the house. They used a cell phone to record video of what was inside the home when they spotted the tiger. A judge granted a warrant and they were able to get the tiger out of the garage.

The tiger was nicknamed "Tyson" after Mike Tyson in the movie, "The Hangover." The tiger appeared to be trained to take selfies with strangers and the original call seemed aimed at helping the animal rather than ridding a smoke house of a caged beast.

The rescue all began with a call to the 311 help line, which is available as a free service line in the city of Houston. The tipster repeated a request to remain anonymous about the call.

ABC13 got to listen to the call, and the following is as transcribed by Eyewitness News:

311 OPERATOR: Thank you for calling Houston 311 help line this is (name). Can I help you?

CALLER: Hi, (name), I was just wondering if I have, like, uh, somebody who I know who has a pet tiger in their house, and I was just wondering if I could, like, make an anonymous call for that, to get that tiger safe.

OPERATOR: What is the address?

CALLER: Um, the address is 9415 E. Avenue J, Houston, Texas, 77012.

OPERATOR: How do you even get a pet tiger?

CALLER: That's what I'm saying because I'm not lying about this, I swear. But, uh so, I was with one of my friends, and we met this guy who knows this guy and, like, and he was, like, "Oh, I need to go to my house to feed my tiger," and he's like, I guess, he sells (inaudible) cause he has money like that. But, uh, he took us to the house. The house is, like, abandoned, like, he's fixing it up right now, but he has the tiger in there. He has it in a cage. I don't know how he moved it there. I don't know how he even got it in there. But yeah, it is there and like the (inaudible), and it's, like, in a small cage. It's pretty big, though. It's not even a baby tiger, like, it's pretty big. But I was wondering, is this going to be, like, an anonymous call?

OPERATOR: Hold on just a moment.

Call pauses

OPERATOR: Ma'am, thank you for holding. We are going to take the report as anonymous. Our system is going to be anonymous. I'm not going to put your name on the report or anything like that. But I did speak to my manager and they would at least like to get a phone number on their side so they can contact you if they need to.

CALLER: Yeah, that's fine.

OPERATOR: But I'm not going to put it on the report, so they can't link it back to you.

CALLER: Oh, okay, thank you

OPERATOR: What's your phone number?

CALLER: (phone number provided)

OPERATOR: And your.... Okay. That's all I need. I don't need a name.

CALLER: It has a gate, like, in front of it. And, um, I think there might be a few trucks out there. But no one is there for sure. No one lives in the house. It's just run down.

OPERATOR: So if we go there, the house just looks like it's vacant, right?

CALLER: Yeah it's like rundown. It kind of looks like a crack house, I would say, it kind of looks like that. But if it's anything, maybe, the neighbors might have heard something because it makes noise. And he does have it in a little cage in a back room in the back of the house on the left side.

OPERATOR: Okay I've gone ahead and made that report. The report is going to be (reference number provided).

CALLER: Okay, thank you.

If you'd like to donate to help animals at the Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch, click here.