Iowa man fights to regain custody of ‘emotional support coyote’

An Iowa man is battling officials who seized a coyote that the man calls his emotional support animal.

Matt Stokes told KCRG that the coyote was left behind by its mother after a pack made a den on his property in April. He left food and water out for the pup, who he named Drifter.

In October, a neighbor corralled the animal while it was roaming the neighborhood and contacted Waterloo animal control, The Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier reported. Officials seized the animal, citing local law that prohibits residents from keeping a coyote as a pet, KCRG reported. The animal was taken to the WildThunder Wildlife & Animal Rehabilitation Sanctuary, with the hopes of releasing it back into the wild.

“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,” said Tracy Belle, WildThunder director.

Stokes told KCRG that he never felt unsafe around Drifter and that the coyote had served as his emotional support animal while he dealt with a serious infection. He says he has a doctor's note certifying Drifter as an emotional support animal and doubts that Drifter could survive in the wild.

"This animal is a dog in a coyote's body," Stokes told The Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier.

Stokes plans on hiring an attorney and applying for a license through the Iowa Department of Agriculture that could allow him to keep the coyote, according to the KCRG report.

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