REYNOLDSBURG -- The Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA), in conjunction with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Fairfield Area Humane Society and Fairfield County Dog Warden, filed 21 charges against Stacy Elliott, a.k.a. Stacy El-Muhammad, in connection to a serval found loose in Canal Winchester.
The serval is a wild cat native to Africa, weighing up to 26 pounds as an adult. Published reports state the exotic animal belonged to the father of former Ohio State star Ezekiel Elliott, now playing for the Dallas Cowboys.
On Oct. 13, 2019, neighbors reported the serval attacked a family dog. A responding Fairfield County Sheriff’s deputy shot and killed the animal.
Investigators with ODA and the Fairfield County Sheriff's Office executed a search warrant at the property as part of the investigation. They spoke with El-Muhammad, who claimed he was keeping the serval, but wasn’t the owner. Investigators were able to use the animal’s microchip to trace its ownership, determining it had been sold to El-Muhammad, who does not hold the required permit to own a serval in Ohio.
ODA filed nine charges against El-Muhammad:
• Failure to notify of dangerous wild animal (DWA) escape
• Obstruction of official business
• Allowing DWA to escape
• Failure to notify law enforcement of DWA escape
• Failure to have DWA signage at property entrance
• Possession of a DWA
• Failure to obtain DWA permit
• Failure to have DWA signage on cage
Of those, eight charges are first-degree misdemeanors. El-Muhammad is also facing 12 other charges, brought by the other agencies involved. A first-degree misdemeanor carries a maximum penalty of six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.