Friday, November 14, 2014

Reality Check: Foxes and the Law

Zara, the mate of Valo the fox.

Note: This is the first in a series of posts I'm going to be making as a reality check to potential fox owners--things that must be considered, but time after time I see newbies glossing over or completely ignoring. The tone here might not be friendly and I may come across as heartless, but I only have the best interests of your fox (or potential fox) at heart.


So, you’ve done all your homework on their needs and care, and you’ve decided that yes, owning foxes is for you. You look up your state laws, and it turns out that they are legal pets in your state! In fact, they even issue permits specifically for foxes! Just sign up for that and you’re in the clear, right?

Not necessarily.

I find a lot of fox owners don’t seem to have a clear grasp of how the law works, and innocent foxes pay the price for it every year. Many people are under the mistaken impression that “State Law” always overrides city or county laws; if the state says it’s okay to have a fox, then it doesn’t matter what the city says. This could not be further from the truth. The reality is that the more restrictive ruling always applies.

If your state says “no”, but your city says “yes”: No, you can’t have a fox.
If your state says “yes”, but your city says “no”: No, you can’t have a fox.

It doesn’t matter if you have a state permit. It doesn’t matter if you’re a nonprofit sanctuary. It doesn't matter if you're inspected and licensed with the USDA. It doesn’t matter how much you love the animal or how good your care is or how responsible you are. If your city has an ordinance against owning foxes, and you buy a fox, you are breaking the law, and you are in the wrong.

To reiterate: if your city has an ordinance against foxes, it doesn't matter if you have a state permit.

It also doesn't matter if the "State Division of Wildlife" or "State Department of Natural Resources" official who issued your permit told you that you are in the clear. Typically that individual only knows what the state laws are; while many do know local laws throughout their districts, not all do. And knowing the local laws is not their responsibility--it's yours.

It's your responsibility to make sure there are no state laws against owning foxes.
It's your responsibility to make sure there are no county laws against owning foxes.
It's your responsibility to make sure that there are no city laws against owning foxes.

The recent case of Valo the fox highlights this. The whole mess could have easily been avoided, as Fairborn OH has all of their ordinances online. A thirty-second google search reveals that Fairborn OH has an ordinance against them, and would have let the owner know not to move there. By taking the word of a state official instead of doing her own homework, the owner unintentionally put her foxes at risk. (A collar or a microchip could also have saved Valo's life, but that's a topic for another article.)

If you fail in your responsibility to make sure you are legally in the clear before obtaining a fox, and your animal is confiscated and/or euthanized because of it, then that animal's death is on your hands. Not the city, not the state, not the county, not the mean government officials who are just doing their jobs by enforcing the law--it is your fault for keeping an illegal animal.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

New House!

I know it's been a while since my last update, but things have been a bit hectic. We've moved to a new house, and Gizmo has a new, even bigger outdoor enclosure. He still has all his old toys, plus some fun new ones (like climbing logs!)

The best part about the move, though, is in our new neighborhood he is allowed to go for walks again! Earlier today on our walk, he managed to catch a sparrow that hopped out of a bush right in front of him. Always the gentleman, he saved one of the wings for me.

Now that life has settled down quite a bit, I should be back to updating regularly. Due to an overzealous spam-filter, I lost a lot of my e-mails. However, the problem should be fixed now. If you sent me a message and never got a response, please just drop me a line again at either or

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Of Foxes and Teenagers

Miehiera the arctic fox.
The following was written by a friend of mine, Alynn, who writes a blog about her fox Miehiera. I get a lot of e-mails from teenagers who love foxes and want to get one for a pet, so I wanted to give you guys the perspective of a teen who has been there and gotten her fox.

Hold off.

I am about the same age as you (I turned 14 this year) and in the same situation. I got my fox the summer that would between my 8th and 9th grade year (I skipped a grade).

To be honest, if I could do it all over I would have waited until I was out on my own or at least had a job. I had to pay for everything, and without a job this was incredibly hard. I am taking her to the vet and spending all my savings to do that just to get her checked up.

I have to rely on my parents a lot for additional expenses and for transportation. Rather than be able to expand her kennel right away, I have to slowly save up. This would be so much easier if I had a job.

I'm a full time college student. I just finished a semester with 14 credit hours.
We have a lot of financial strain that I didn't foresee when we put down the deposit.
None of this I have any control over.

I just really don't have control. I can't go out and just get her more panels. I can't just drive her to the vet if there's a problem. I do get very busy and I have to admit Miehiera does not get as much attention as she deserves.
There's also the problem that I don't know where I'm going to be in the next five years, meanwhile Miehiera is probably going to live for another 15.

I say you need to wait until you're AT LEAST 16 and you can pay for the expense of the fox.
I would not get the fox unless your parents pushed for it first. If your parents are like mine, they're not going to spend the money unless they absolutely need to. You're going to have to pay for everything.

You might be looking at my post and think, "Yeah, I can pay for things! I can handle this!" Well, that's what I thought. I love Miehiera to death, she's my world. Nothing more uplifting than after a long, hard day going outside to see a fox screaming, wiggling, wagging their tail and running all up and down their pen in sheer joy just to see you. However, I have a lot of stress in my life and Miehiera is suffering because she doesn't get the time or the immediate care she deserves. I definitely admit I was not ready for her in hindsight. But I have her now, and by getting her I made her the promise that I would take care of her.

Please, wait until you're at least 16. It would be a lot better if you waited until you're out of college or at least to a point in your life that you know where you're going to be for the next 20 years. I don't know where I'm going to be in five.

I'm not saying it won't work out for you because I am having a hard time, but if you're really determined I would save up at least $5000, not including the expense of the fox itself. The vet bills, the food, the toys, the kennel - it adds up quick and you need money for a rainy day, because things do come up.

If you REALLY want to work with foxes, I would recommend finding a sanctuary with foxes. That will give you invaluable experience. You may even be able to find fox owners near you, or find a breeder. Find an exotic vet to volunteer for. There are lots of zoos that will have summer camps for kids your age. I found one here in Michigan, I think you could find one in Lousiana. I even believe that going to an exotic animal swap meet/auction (I think there is one in Lousiana) you can see some foxes and perhaps talk to breeders.

I spent a year researching, saving and so on and that didn't even prepare me totally!
I do take good care of my girl and love her to death, even if she doesn't get all the attention she deserves. For her sake and mine though, I wish I had waited until I was absolutely sure of where I was going to be in the next 10 years.

If you have to get a permit, that can be tricky too. Because I am not old enough to own an animal, legally Miehiera belongs to my father. All of her health records and documentation is in my name. This was confusing to work out with my breeder and my vet. And if anything ever happens to cause us to get in trouble with the law (say, she bites someone, which I don't allow her to be visited by many people anyway), my dad's head is the one on the table. I legally can not take responsibility and that bothers me. If you get a permit, your parents are going to have to be the ones to apply for it. It's really frustrating to have to have someone represent you like that, and it's best to wait until you're old enough to take direct responsibility for the animal itself.

Overall, unless your parents really want the fox too and are willing to pay for every expense and help you care for it, I wouldn't go for it. Spend the next couple of years getting experience, mulling things over and saving up money.