Missing exotic cats found in Hayes Twp.

December 26, 2014

Serval cats originated in Africa. The serval cats and  savannah cats are worth thousands of dollars.

Serval cats originated in Africa. The serval cats and
savannah cats are worth thousands of dollars.

By Pat Maurer
Correspondent

Two of six exotic cats reported stolen in Osceola County have been located in a Hayes Township home in Clare County and returned to the owner this week.
First reported as a theft of just two exotic cats from a breeder, Jody Bazuin, in Osceola County’s Highland Township December 7, the number of the African cats found missing climbed to six.

Bazuin said in an earlier interview that she believes the theft was done for the purpose of selling the cats for breeding purposes. Cages were also taken from the two locations on the farm where she keeps the cats.

Now, with information from Rick Phillips of Hayes Township, all but one of the six may have been recovered Tuesday.
Phillips said he spotted “huge tracks” in his yard Tuesday while shoveling snow. When he saw the same tracks on his porch railing he knew they looked different so he took some pictures of them.

Later he saw pictures of Bazuin’s cats on the news.
He called the Osceola County Sheriff’s Department, got Bazuin’s number and called her.

Rick Phillips of Hayes Township spotted “huge tracks”  in his yard while shoveling snow, he saw the same  tracks on his porch railing.

Rick Phillips of Hayes Township spotted “huge tracks”
in his yard while shoveling snow, he saw the same
tracks on his porch railing.

“She recognized the tracks as belonging to her cats,” Phillips said in a phone interview Wednesday morning. “Those cats have only four toes.”
Phillips said the Bazuins came to Clare County and recovered three cats about a mile away on Grant, at the same home where the first two were found and recovered by police. “I think only the big male is still missing,” Phillips said.

He said he believed a man from Cadillac had taken the cats and brought them to the Clare County home.
Each of the two breeds Bazuin raises, African Serval and/or African Savannah cats, is worth thousands of dollars. The two discovered and returned Monday were an African Savannah Serval and Savannah crossbreed.

The first two reported missing earlier this month were a male African Serval and a female African F-1 Savannah that Bazuin found missing at her family farm on 21 Mile Road. The value of the male is about $5,000 and the female is valued at $7,500. The female cats are more valuable and coveted for breeding purposes or re-sale.
Later she discovered, and reported the other four cats missing from her kennels.

While most of the cats that were stolen are half-breeds, one, the male pure bred African Serval she named Squeak, is the one still missing
Bazuin and husband Leroy raise Scottish Highlander beef cattle on their farm. Partially paralyzed from a surgical procedure in 2003, she switched from raising English bulldogs to breeding the exotic cats ten years ago because they are easier to care for and because the business raises extra money on the farm.

She said she considers the cats as her pets, and was happy when two were returned to her. She could not be reached at press time about finding more of her cats Tuesday.
She was offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to their return, but Phillips said, “I don’t want a reward. I just wanted to give them a good Christmas.”

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