On Friday evening, May 11, 2001, a client, Mr. Dale Hogan, who is a Florida licensed trapper, came to train his dog with me. He had with him a cage with a wild grey fox, which he had trapped earlier that day. He estimated the fox's age at approximately 5-7 weeks. Possibly he felt sorry for me, because my own dog had died during surgery the preceding day, and he asked me if I could keep the fox, and feed and water him, because he had no time to take the fox to a sanctuary or relocation facility at that time. Initially, I agreed to keep him for the weekend, until Mr. Hogan could return to pick him up on Monday or Tuesday. We designated our 500 square foot workshop area as “the fox room”, and got him out of the cage immediately.
In what seemed like no time, the fox began to "adopt" my wife and I, and we also "adopted" him. We fed him from our hand, and saw both his fear and flight response beginning to diminish. We also found that providing him with a pan of kitty litter, he would reliably use it. This allowed us to give him free roam of my office and workshop, an area of approximately 850 square feet, without worrying about him soiling the floors. As of this date, we have had no need to cage or confine him. Just like our dogs, he can come and go pretty much as he wants to. (However, we do not allow dogs near the fox!)
Within two days of his arrival, he was consistently coming to us for food, and we felt we would really like to keep him as our pet.
On Monday, I contacted Mr. Hogan to ask about keeping "Scamp", as he is now known. During that conversation, I asked Mr. Hogan if a license or permit was necessary. At that time, Mr. Hogan did not know if there were any requirements for a permit for a grey fox, and said he would contact the FWC office in Ocala, to find out. (Mr. Hogan works primarily in the Ocala area, and has contact with that office.) He also suggested I search the FWC website on the internet for this information.
During this conversation, Lt. Parker suggested I contact the Ocala FWC office for the permit. Immediately following that conversation, I did telephone the Ocala office of FWC. I spoke with Ms. Shelly Dolan in the Ocala office, who stated she couldn’t foresee any problem in obtaining the proper permit. She said she has mailed me the correct form(s), which I will fill out and return to Ocala immediately. I have learned today (June 15, 2001), that personal pet permits are only issued from the local office, therefore, Ocala cannot issue the permit for me. I spoke with Ms. Nicole Brown, who was very helpful in directing me to speak with the Major, and also contact Chief Kyle Hill in Tallahassee.
If I would have known a permit was needed before I accepted the fox on my property, I certainly would have applied for and obtained it. I had no idea of this until I searched the FWC website, and Mr. Hogan spoke with FWC in Ocala on my behalf. I then acted immediately to obtain the correct permit. I sincerely feel I am trying my best to abide by the letter of the law.
Although I have not actually been accused of this, Lt. Parker initiated this subject during both our “driveway” discussion, and subsequent “telephone” discussion. Therefore, I would like to clearly and emphatically make this statement:
This fox is our PET. He is a member of our FAMILY, and, as such, we will PROTECT him, and allow no harm whatsoever to come to him. He WILL NOT EVER be used, in any way, for "fox hunting" or any other "sport" of any kind. We will not allow ANY dogs to endanger our fox, including our own dogs. We do NOT have, nor have we ever had, any interest whatsoever in any "sport" which includes killing or chasing. We do not hunt, we fish very rarely, and release the bass which we catch. We want only to have Scamp live happily in our environment, and provide for him in the best way possible, as a member of our family. Please note also: I have never trained hunting dogs. The only types of dog training I do are obedience, personal protection, police K9, and drug detection. I have never worked with hunting dogs, and have no interest at all in this area of dog training.
If anyone from FWC would like to see - at any time - the way that Scamp lives, including his housing, feeding, safety, playing, or any other detail of his well being, FWC is always welcome at our home. I would prefer a telephone call in advance, but that is not necessary.
Finally, I would like to say; after several weeks in our home, if this fox is taken away from us and placed in a rehabilitation facility, I genuinely believe he could not learn to be wild ever again, and this would not benefit the fox in any way. He is completely tame at this time, sleeps on our pillows, socializes with strangers, walks willingly on a leash (about 60% of the time), eats from our hands, and plays with us endlessly. He comes to us of his own volition, and jumps in our laps to take a nap. We are his family, and he is part of ours. He loves being handled and petted. If FWC decides we cannot keep this fox, we feel certain that he will spend the rest of his life in a cage somewhere, kept by people who do not have the time to spend with him that we do.
I apologize for such a long and wordy letter, and I also apologize for my ignorance regarding exactly when I should have applied for a permit. I have learned from FWC personnel that both Mr. Hogan and myself made errors, and did not follow exact regulations in this issue. I am very sorry that I didn’t know better, and I promise you, this will NOT happen ever again.
Thank you sincerely for reading through this. We honestly hope that FWC will consider all of the facts and allow us to keep Scamp in our family.
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