Neighbors in a Jersey Shore town are on edge after a pet bobcat escaped from its owner's home.
Virginia Fine's 38-pound domesticated bobcat, Rocky, has been missing from her home on Bernard Drive in Stafford Township, N.J., since March 25.
"He's sweet, he's nice, he's super affectionate with me," Fine said. "He is a house pet."
Rocky escaped through her home's back door while playing with her dog, prompting her to post signs around her community that read, "Help me get home...I miss my family," alongside playful photos of her pet.
Fine got the nearly 3-year-old bobcat, who is up-to-date on all his shots and declawed, when he was just 5-weeks old from a breeder in Montana.
"He is third generation captivity. He’s never been wild, his parents have never been wild," she said. "He has no aggression at all. He has never hurt anybody."
But Fine's description doesn't calm the fears of those living nearby.
"Even though it's declawed, it still has teeth and it has the instincts to bite," said Jim Pinkowski, a neighbor, who is nervous for his grandchildren to visit while Rocky is still missing.
"I'm an animal lover, basically, but not a wild animal like that," he said.
Fine, who has a township permit to own the feline, insists that Rocky is a gentle creature despite his size.
"His inclination is to be more timid with strangers," she said.
So far, attempts to capture and tranquilize the pet were unsuccessful. But animal control officers, who set traps to catch Rocky, plan to seize the bobcat if found.
"We've had a couple instances in the past with this animal getting loose," said Stafford Township Police Capt. Tom Dellane.
Local law prohibits pets of any kind from running loose and this is the second time since September that police issued Fine a summons, referring to the creature as a "bobcat hybrid," for Rocky running at large.
"She'd be subject to immediate impoundment of the animal until such time as there was a further court hearing to determine what would be done with it," Dellane said.
Fine just wants her "house cat" to return home.
Authorities say anyone who sees Rocky should keep their distance and contact police immediately.