Matt Stokes of Waterloo, Iowa, is currently engaged in a legal battle with the city’s animal control and the state Departments of Agriculture, which controls domestic animal regulations, and Natural Resources, which controls wildlife regulations.
Stokes now, in an effort to reclaim his coyote, says the animal confiscated from his premises is a support animal who helped him to stay healthy over the past six months. Stokes’ relationship with the coyote began in April when he noticed a pack of the animals wandering near his land.
One of them made a den in his old shed and shortly thereafter gave birth to a litter of pups.
When the mother left with most of the pups, she left one behind.
Rather than call the Iowa Department of Natural Resources Wildlife & Fisheries Bureau, Stokes began feeding the abandoned pup. Experts recommend the public always notify their wildlife bureau so sick or abandoned animals can be taken to licensed sanctuaries and rehabilitation facilities.
According to Stokes:
“So I kept putting food and water out for him. It was two weeks he was out here by himself.”
Stokes quickly developed a friendship with the coyote pup, who he named Drifter.
Before long, Stokes said he was taking better care of himself because of the animal.
“If it was for him I would probably be missing my toe, foot or leg. Cause I got an infection of the bone. I had to make sure I could take care of myself so I could take care of him.”
This is not yet the reductio ad absurdum of "emotional support animals", but we are getting there … https://t.co/AIJ0dbBUbp
— Kingsnake (@PrestonMcMurry) December 28, 2019
Stokes told his neighbors his new “pet” was a german shepherd, a move he now admits might have been a mistake.
But meanwhile, he and the coyote were getting along famously.
“He’s never been wild, he’s always been tame. We would lay on the couch on Saturday afternoons and take a nap together. He’s my buddy.”
After about six months, Stokes received a call from the Waterloo Police informing him the coyote had been removed from his property. The animal was sent to the Wildthunder Wildlife & Animal Rehabilitation Sanctuary in Independence.
Waterloo give that man his Coyote back . #Waterloo
— Honey Barbeque (@McjiltonTony) January 1, 2020
As it turns out, it’s illegal to keep a coyote or most wildlife as a pet in Iowa.
Several neighbors found the coyote wandering through the neighborhood while Stokes was away.
Coyotes are wild animals and should not be kept as pets or service animals. It is abusive to the wild animals to be kept from their natural habitat. Circus animals and Seaworld animals are other examples of abuse humans commit.
— Marilyn Guthrie (@mj6g0) January 2, 2020