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Swansea family fights to keep pet bobcat

SWANSEA, Ill. - A Swansea family is heartbroken after the Illinois Department of Natural Resources confiscated their pet bobcat.

“I don’t understand. We tried to do what was right. We made a vet appointment on time to take him to the vet because we are told that was one of the things that we needed to do,” said Lakesha Mayweather.

She says she took her pet bobcat Capone to a new vet last Thursday and the next day there was a knock on her door that’s when a state conservation officer confiscated Capone and gave her two citations for having the bobcat, despite a permit she believes allows her to keep her cat.

“I carry this one around with me because they say it has to be on you at all times so I made a copy and laminated this. It says 760 fur-bearing animals breeder,” she said.

Under Illinois statute, a bobcat is defined as a dangerous animal. Tim Schweizer with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources says in most cases it’s illegal to own them.

“There are some circumstances like zoos who are able to have animals of this type," he said. "But, for individuals, we need to remind people that there is a distinct difference between possessing pets and possessing wildlife and in Illinois.  Under state law bobcats are considered wildlife and dangerous animals and cannot be possessed by individuals."

Schweizer says this case is still under investigation and Capone is being cared for at an undisclosed facility. But for the Mayweathers, they say it’s more than losing a family member since Capone is an emotional support animal.

“He wouldn’t leave my side. He was always there. He would always try to calm me down," Mayweather said.

Supporters have set up a GoFundMe to help with legal expenses to get the animal back. There is also a petition at Change.org and you can sign that here.

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources says it’s still investigating this matter.