Stuffed tiger that caused scare headed to Florida

"Surgery" performed on a stuffed tiger in need of minor repairs before it will be sent to Florida. (Kent County Animal Shelter)


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) – A stuffed tiger that gained national attention after causing a brief scare in one Grand Rapids neighborhood will soon bring comfort to a young girl hundreds of miles away.

On May 28, Kent County Animal Control officers were sent to check out a report of a tiger that was spotted in the driveway of a home on the city’s southwest side.

“I did call for police assistance ‘cause I thought it was real,” said Kent County Animal Control supervisor Joe Dainelis.

Dainelis said that though he at first was skeptical — he took two pictures and even zoomed in — the tiger looked real.

“The second that Officer Rachel Jensen came around the edge of the house and told me it was a stuffed tiger…I dropped my ring pole I probably said some words I shouldn’t, and then I turned red and got on the radio and disregarded PD,” he said.

Dainelis said he has been understandably getting some good-natured ribbing from his coworkers ever since.

“They’ve been calling me tiger for the last couple weeks now: ‘Go get ‘em, tiger,'” he said.

The KCAC officers eventually posed for pictures with the not-so-scary tiger, pictures that got national attention.

>>PHOTOS: Stuffed tiger going to Florida

Dainelis said he has been understandably getting some good-natured ribbing from his coworkers ever since.

“They’ve been calling me tiger for the last couple weeks now: ‘Go get ‘em, tiger,'” he said.

The KCAC officers eventually posed for pictures with the not-so-scary tiger, pictures that got national attention.

Those pictures were posted to the Kent County Animal Shelter’s Facebook page, and the story quickly went viral after it was picked up by 24 Hour News 8 and other local media outlets.

Samantha Adkins, a Florida resident who saw the story pop up on her Facebook feed, reached out to the shelter after her 6-year-old daughter Faith noticed the tiger.

“She goes, ‘Mommy, is that daddy’s tiger?’” Adkins told Dainelis Tuesday via Skype from her home in Florida.

For Adkins, it was a sentimental moment because her deceased husband had given Faith a tiger that looked exactly like the one the KCAC officers “captured.”

She emailed KCAS saying, in part:

“My husband passed away last year, and he had a stuffed tiger that looked identical to that, sitting in the same position. My then 5 year old daughter, Faith, decided she wanted to keep (something) of her daddy’s. Well, I bought a used couch after relocating and the couch was infested with bed bugs. We had to get everything professionally treated, and sadly, the tiger didn’t make it through the bed bug treatments. I have promised my daughter that I will find another one, but have not been successful in doing so. I would find a way to pay whatever the asking price is for it to give my little girl a piece of her daddy back.”

Florida, after it underwent some minor “surgery” for repairs — at no cost.

The Animal Emergency Hospital on Plainfield Avenue NE donated time to “suture injuries” that the tiger had sustained. They sewed up tears on the tiger’s tail, knee and chest and also inserted a heart “and filled it with wishes.”

“Although it’s possibly viewed by some as a silly story, it’s something that’s really going to make a little girl who lost her father very happy,” Dainelis said.

While on Skype Tuesday, Dainelis asked Faith if she had a good name for the stuffed animal.

“Jim,” Faith said after a moment.

“You want to name him Jim? I love it! That’s excellent!” said Dainelis.  Faith then told him Jim was her father’s name.

The KCAC will mail the tiger to Faith in Florida.

“What [the tiger has] done is it’s brought some joy, some laughter, some joking to the office — a lot of it at my expense, but I’m OK with that — but then it also brought more attention for people to recognize the shelter. Come and check it out and adopt an animal,” said Dainelis.

He also said that summer is the time when the animal shelter has the most animals, so it’s the perfect time for people to come check it out and support the shelter’s efforts.

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