News & Politics

Police Shoot Bengal Tiger in Atlanta Residential Area as Terrified Neighbors Watch

Image via Henry County Police

A loose zoo tiger in southern Atlanta’s Henry County savaged a dog in the wee hours of Wednesday morning before police arrived. The small dog survived, but the tiger did not.

“Unfortunately, it jumped a fence and went after a dog behind one of the residences here,” Henry County police Capt. Joey Smith told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Smith added that authorities got at least two 911 calls from people who spotted the big cat near the ramp from I-75 North to Jodeco Road, and near a home in the area.

“The officers had to use some force to put the tiger down,” Smith added. “It was large enough to be of great concern to us.”

The officers were not equipped with tranquilizers and came across the Bengal tiger before animal control arrived. They were unable to save the dog without killing the tiger.

Brittney Speck, whose dog was attacked by the Bengal tiger, told the Journal-Constitution that she woke up to high beams and other lights flashed on by officers.

“My dog was also going crazy in the backyard,” Speck said. The Dachshund, named Journey, was barking loudly, and Speck saw the tiger in her neighbor’s yard. She called 911.

Then the tiger jumped on her dog. “And the officers I guess just started firing rounds and took it down and then gave me my dog back,” Speck recalled.

WSB-TV reporter Audrey Washington shared a picture of Speck and her dog, quoting the pet owner saying, “I was shocked!”

The Bengal tiger is dead, but Journey is O.K.

Speck said she was thankful her 3-year-old, 4-year-old, and 7-year-old children were inside the home at the time. “It was like a full-grown zoo tiger,” the mother explained.

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources and animal control officials removed the tiger from the scene. According to the Journal-Constitution, it remains unclear how the Bengal tiger ended up in a residential area.

Suvannee Brownlee, a Hardee’s employee, said she pulled into the fast food joint for work at about 4 a.m., and a man told her he had seen a tiger. Several police cars arrived and officers told her to shut doors and stay inside.

“I was shocked,” Brownlee said.

No traffic delays resulted from the incident.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has not yet released a statement on the incident, but it did send a letter Tuesday to circus exhibitor Hawthorn Corporation urging the organization to stop using animal acts in its circuses after two tigers died in April. The tigers, named Prince and Munia, died after long trips on the road. PETA said reports showed Hawthorn confined tigers to cramped cages and failed to provide veterinary care for a tiger named King.

“Dozens of tigers have died on Hawthorn’s watch, and these new documents show that the death toll is rising,” PETA Foundation Associate Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Rachel Mathews said.

Would PETA support the police who killed this Bengal tiger? How does an animal rights organization weigh the rights of a dachshund verses the rights of a loose tiger? Police knew what to do — because a person’s pet is more valuable than a stray animal.

Here’s a video of Speck telling the tale.