Owner wanted bodies of pet foxes returned

Julianne Langshaw

A WURRUK woman is devastated after Agriculture Victoria and police executed a search warrant at her property on Tuesday, seizing her three pet foxes and ordering them to be destroyed.

Donna Pearson had raised the three male foxes — Bob, George and Ralphie — since they were about six days old, before their eyes had even opened.

She had bottle fed and nurtured them to about 10 months old, when they came to the attention of authorities and were euthanased on Tuesday.

A tearful Ms Pearson said all she had wanted was to have the bodies of her “boys” back — a request that had been denied.

“I want to bury my boys at home,” she said.

Ms Pearson said she had even been willing to have the fox bodies cremated, if that would satisfy biosecurity concerns.

“I just don’t want them to go to the tip,” she said.

“They were beautiful — they never hurt anyone.

“There’s no compassion in this world any more.”

Two of the foxes, litter brothers, were given to Ms Pearson by a “compassionate farmer”, and the other came to her as a result of someone mistreating it.

She and her friend Rob Elkin, from Sale, said the pups had been housed in secure pens, and were unable to dig out or escape, Ms Pearson adding construction had recently begun on building the “Taj Mahal” of pens to house her “boys”.

Mr Elkin said the foxes were well cared for and affectionate.

“They would give Donna kisses and sit on her lap,” he said.

Ms Pearson said they were also playful, describing how they would “run amok” when she cleaned their pens.

She fed them chicken necks, raw meat, vegetables and berries, and said they went mad for broccoli, peaches and peanuts.

She said they received regular flea and worm treatments and would have been desexed as well if she was allowed to.

Mr Elkin said thousands had been spent setting up secure pens.

“They were pets,” he said.

“They weren’t hurting anybody — it’s just unfair.”

He said he had an excavator ready to lay the foxes to rest on Ms Pearson’s half acre property, but said Agriculture Victoria “won’t have a bar of it”.

Mr Elkin said they would have met any criteria “We’ll bury them 10 foot deep if we have to,” he said.

“There is no reason for not releasing them [the bodies].”

Ms Pearson agreed.

“There’s no reason — they’re dead, for God’s sake.”

She said if she could have applied for a permit to keep the foxes if such permits were available, and does not understand how people are allowed to keep rabbits and venomous animals including snakes, but not foxes.

An Agriculture Victoria spokesperson said it seized the foxes under warrant from the Magistrates’ Court.

“The warrant provides for the seizure, destruction and disposal of the foxes,” the spokesperson said.

“Declared pests seized under a warrant are disposed off humanely in line with established procedures.”

The Agriculture Victoria spokesperson said the Red Fox was declared an established pest animal under the Catchment and Land Protection Act 1994.

“It is an offence under the act to keep or release a fox, with a prescribed maximum penalty of 60 penalty units or $9671.40 for each offence.

“Given this is an ongoing investigation, it would be inappropriate to discuss potential legal action regarding this matter.”