Warren MI police received a 911 call Monday night a little after 8:30 p.m. The caller reported spotting a large animal inside a cement sewer pipe that was no longer in use.
The man told a
dispatcher, "I'm not playing games. I went up behind it. I shined a light in there. It's huge! It's like a 150-pound cat!"
The police arrived and saw the black panther sitting inside the drain pipe. It was decided that the area needed to be cordoned off immediately .
Police Commissioner William Dwyer said, "Officers could see the outline of what appeared to be a panther-like animal lying in the tube, looking out at them. They backed out, for fear of it lunging at them."
Dwyer told the Free Press
, "There was a fear that ... it could ... endanger the community. We're out there to keep the community safe, by whatever means necessary."
A Macomb County animal official told the police that if they used a dart to tranquilise the animal it could take 10 minutes to take effect. It was feared in that amount of time the animal could run away.
With ten officers at the scene it was decided after about an hour to follow a sergeant's order and to fire a Taser at the large animal.
The animal didn't move and it was noted its eyes were still. The officers then discovered it was a large stuffed black panther toy that appeared to be life size. They now believe the toy was placed in the pipe as a hoax.
Even though the incident resulted in three hours of overtime for a animal control officer Dwyer believes the police showed good judgement.
He said, "If in fact it was a panther and it got in the neighborhoods, we would've had a crisis on our hands. This could've been a standoff for several hours, tying up a number of personnel that could've been used for service and other patrols."