HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — In a News 19 exclusive, a woman who says her daughter was attacked by a serval cat in an exotic pet store in Huntsville is speaking out about the incident.
Shelby Rood posted details of the attack on social media. The post has drawn widespread attention and now the mother wants to raise awareness.
The attack was first reported on April 2. Rood said she went to 256Exotics, a pet store that specializes in exotic animals, with her family to purchase a mouse for their pet snake.
While at the counter, Rood says in a split second, she saw one of the servals with her 3-year-old daughter in its paws.
“Even if I was standing right there next to my kid the cat still could have grabbed her,” Rood explained. “I turned around to see what was behind me and that’s when the cat grabbed my child. Then I grabbed my child from the cat, and I took her to the bathroom because she was bleeding.”
The girl sustained puncture wounds and scratches in the attack, but Rood claims the reaction from the owner is what surprised her even more.
The attack has gained national attention through social media.
Big cats activist and “Tiger King” star Carole Baskin reached out to News 19 to comment about the incident. Baskin has voiced her concerns about the exotic pet store in the past.
“I wouldn’t have even known about the situation if the mother would not have gone on Facebook and posted those images and talked about it,” Baskin stated. “That could have been such a tragedy because a serval can take down an animal so much bigger than themselves. They are built for going for the jugular and then using their back claws to disembowel their prey.”
Rood says she wants to make other parents aware that when they walk into the store with small children to be on the lookout near the serval cage.
“I just wanted other mothers to know that place is not kid-friendly,” Rood said. “No matter if they say they are kid-friendly, it is not a kid-friendly pet store, and I didn’t want anything else to happen.”
News 19 reached out to the owner of 256Exotics for comment about the incident but have not heard back.