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Mother, Carole Baskin speaks out after Huntsville pet store attack

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – In a News 19 exclusive, a woman who says her daughter was attacked by a serval cat at an exotic pet store in Huntsville talks about the incident.

Shelby Rood posted details of the attack on social media. The post got widespread attention and now the mother wants to raise awareness.

The attack was first reported on April 2. Rood said she went to 256Exotics, a pet store specializing in exotic animals, with her family to buy a mouse for their pet snake.

While at the counter, Rood said in a split second, she saw one of the servals with her 3-year-old daughter in her paws.

“Even if I was standing right next to my child, the cat could have grabbed it,” Rood explained. “I turned around to see what was behind me and that’s when the cat grabbed my child. Then I grabbed my child from the cat and took her to the bathroom because she was bleeding.

The girl suffered puncture wounds and scratches in the attack, but Rood says the owner’s reaction is what surprised her even more.

The attack drew national attention through social media.

Big cat activist and ‘Tiger King’ star Carole Baskin contacted News 19 to comment on the incident. Baskin has expressed concerns about exotic pet stores in the past.

“I wouldn’t even have known about the situation if the mother hadn’t gone to Facebook, posted these images and talked about it,” Baskin said. “It could have been such a tragedy because a serval can take down an animal so much bigger than itself. They are built to reach for the jugular and then use their rear claws to rip open their prey.

Rood says she wants to make other parents aware that when they enter the store with young children, they should be on the lookout near the serval cage.

“I just wanted other moms to know that this place is not kid friendly,” Rood said. “It doesn’t matter if they say they are kid friendly, this is not a kid friendly pet store and I didn’t want anything else to happen.”

News 19 reached out to the owner of 256Exotics to comment on the incident, but did not hear back.