STAFFORD TOWNSHIP — A judge has ordered a blood test for Ginny Fine’s 38-pound pet bobcat after a state official told him the animal may not be a hybrid after all.
Judge Damian Murray said he was contacted by an official from the conservation office of the state Division of Fish & Wildlife on Friday morning requesting a warrant for the test. The division feels it may not be a hybrid cat, Murray said during a municipal court proceeding Friday afternoon.
Fine said she purchased Rocky from a breeder in Montana. But Murray told the court that a wildlife officer contacted the breeder — Bitterroot Bobcat and Lynx — and was told they sell only purebred bobcats.
The breeder’s website says Northwest Bobcat and Canadian Lynx kittens cost $1,750 each.
Murray said the new information constitutes probable cause for the warrant.
“It’s highly improbable that you could cross a bobcat with a cat,” he said.
If the blood test shows Rocky is a purebred bobcat, the animal will not be returned to Fine because further licensing and applications would need to be submitted to the state for approvals, Murray said.
“My comments are not to imply that you knew this animal may have been a purebred bobcat,” the judge told Fine. “You may have been duped.”
Murray cited a case in New York in which an owner was sold a purebred bobcat from the same breeder under the belief that it was a hybrid.
He added that the authorities’ concern is for the safety of the community in the event that Rocky is a purebred bobcat.
“In light of the developments of this case, and if he is 100 percent bobcat, it should not be in your backyard,” he said. “I’ve got grandchildren less than 38 pounds, and I wouldn’t want them walking up and petting this cat.”
Fine asked to address the court and told Murray that Rocky has never hurt anyone, has always lived in her home and is used to other domestic animals and people.
Rocky is currently at the Popcorn Park Zoo in Lacey Township, where he was taken after he was removed from Fine's home earlier this week as part of a court agreement reached after the animal ran away in October. Rocky ran away again March 25 and was gone for 10 days.
Fine told Murray that when he returned home last weekend, Rocky appeared thinner.
“If he was in the woods for 10 days, he wasn’t eating nuts and berries, and he didn’t go down to ShopRite. Let’s hope he didn’t rekindle some of his feral instincts,” Murray said.
Fine told Murray she has been denied access to visit Rocky at the zoo but that members of the media have been allowed to go to the facility and view the animal.
“He’s lived in a house his whole life and has been around people,” Fine said.
Murray told Fine he could not order visitation for her to see Rocky.
A visibly distraught Fine said after the proceeding that the fight is not over and she plans to do everything she can to bring Rocky home. She said she has never seen Rocky display any behavior that would indicate he is a wild animal and purebred bobcat.
“I have no idea what they’re talking about. This isn’t the end. This isn’t over. I’m going to keep fighting to bring him home,” Fine said.
The October court agreement dictated that Rocky would be removed from Fine’s home pending a court appearance if he ran away again. Fine was also ordered to build a secure enclosure for Rocky within 10 days, but that task wasn’t completed.
This week, the public stepped up to help Fine raise money to build a new pen for the animal so he could come home.
Murray said a veterinarian at Popcorn Park Zoo will administer the blood test and results will take about one week.
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