Henry County police officers were dispatched to the area and kept their eyes on the creature while calling animal control. However, upon seeing the tiger attack a dog, they opted to shoot the animal, killing it before further help could arrive.
In a statement on Facebook, the Henry County Police Department explained that "With the tiger in close proximity to a school bus route in a densely populated area, officers made the decision to put the animal down with gunfire fearing that occupants of the home could be in danger as well as others in the area."
In Locust Grove, Georgia, about 17 miles away, the Noah’s Ark Animal Sanctuary was called to assist with the situation; while they intended to bring over a tranquilizer gun, they did not arrive in time to prevent the animal's death.
"Unfortunately, human life became at risk and the tiger was shot by the authorities," the sanctuary said in a statement. “Thank you to the officers for trying their best to bring this animal to safety.”
The dog that the tiger attacked, a dachshund named Journey, is alright, according to her owner, Brittney Speck, who moved into the area in the last two months.
“She’s great, she’s okay,” Speck said. "She’s a little shaken up. I’m sure she’s had better mornings."
“The tiger jumped on top of my dog and the officers just started firing rounds and took it down and then gave my dog back,” she explained. She added that she is glad that none of her children, aged 3, 4, and 7, were outside at the early morning hour.
The big question now is where the animal came from. The Noah’s Ark Animal Sanctuary has tigers, but says that all of them are accounted for—this now deceased cat came from somewhere else.
“There are a lot of theories, but who knows?” said Gerri Yoder, the Animal Control Director for Henry County. He noted that owning a tiger is illegal without a special permit, and suggested that it may have been part of an exotic pet trade or was bred for the purpose of resale.