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Man wants coyote back as emotional support animal

Matthew Stokes says the wild coyote helps him depression and anxiety.

Matthew Stokes and the coyote he named Drifter (Matt Stokes via AP)
Matthew Stokes and the coyote he named Drifter (Matt Stokes via AP)

By Associated Press Reporter

An Iowa man is trying regain custody of a young coyote that he says has become his emotional support animal.

“This animal is a dog in a coyote’s body,” said Matthew Stokes about Drifter, a pup who he said was left by a coyote family that had dug a den last spring in his garden on the outskirts of Waterloo.

Mr Stokes said Drifter was an orphaned pup “looking for a pack”. Mr Stokes said he “became his pack”.

He saved my life. And I saved his life too Matthew Stokes

He told the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier that he was suffering at the time from a bone infection in a foot and was in danger of losing it. He said Drifter kept him going.

“I had to take care of myself. There was nobody else there to care for him. He saved my life. And I saved his life too,” Mr Stokes said.

But the pup was corralled by a neighbour while roaming the area in October and placed with a wildlife rehabilitation agency.

Tracy Belle, director of WildThunder Wildlife and Animal Rehabilitation and Sanctuary, said: “This is not an emotional support animal. This is a wild coyote that he took out of the wild and decided to make a pet.”

Ms Belle said Drifter is young and seems docile but his adult behaviour and predatory instincts have yet to kick in.

She added: “This is not a domestic coyote, this is a wild animal.”

WildThunder’s goal is to return the coyote to the wild.

Mr Stokes said he has obtained a letter from his physician that says Drifter is an emotional support animal because he helps him with depression and anxiety.

Mr Stokes is also in the process of applying for a US Department of Agriculture licence to keep a dangerous animal, he said, and is also studying a provision of Iowa law that would let him keep Drifter as an educational animal.

PA

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