Charges against woman with exotic cat dropped - WFSB 3 Connecticut

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Charges against woman with exotic cat dropped

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Noah the serval. (Beth Rhines photo) Noah the serval. (Beth Rhines photo)
MIDDLETOWN, CT (WFSB) -

A cat fight has been playing out in a courtroom for nearly a year, but on Monday, the charges were dropped against the woman accused of illegally owning an exotic cat, with one big stipulation.

On Monday, both sides gave up something to come to a resolution.

Beth Rhines, of Middletown, said the last year has been a nightmare.

Last May, her pet Noah was seized by police. Noah is a domesticated African Serval, who she has had for 18 months.

Rhines was charged with illegally owning a dangerous animal.

"Noah is family. He's my family. We love Noah and we miss him a lot,” Rhines said.

Rhines, along with her attorney Joseph Sastre, have been fighting to get Noah back ever since he was taken from his enclosure outside her house.

"There's really no historic record of Servals hurting much less killing any human...they're actually a very docile animal,” Rhines said.

On Monday, the state agreed to drop the charges against Rhines, as long as Noah remains out of state at a licensed facility in Alabama.

In a statement to Eyewitness News, the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection said, "We are pleased the animal is no longer in Connecticut and that restitution has been made to facilities and individuals who have cared for Noah while this matter was pending."

"I'm very happy. It's progress and I’m able to see my cat now. There's still work to do but it's a big step,” Rhines said.

A step in the right direction as Rhines looks to take further steps to get Noah back in her arms.

"The ultimate goal is getting him home to here in Connecticut, legally,” she said.

Rhines said she plans on talking to legislators about clarifying the state statute to allow Servals in Connecticut.

Her next visit to see Noah in Alabama is planned for July.

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