Man fights to get back emotional support coyote


WATERLOO, Iowa (CNN) — An Iowa man said an abandoned coyote pup he adopted became his emotional support animal.

Now, he’s hiring an attorney to get the animal back from the sanctuary where officials placed the animal.

Back in April, Matt Stokes first noticed a pack of coyotes, who had set up a den in an old shed on his property in Waterloo, IA.

“They ain’t bothered me and they keep the raccoons away and woodchucks away,” Stokes said. “I said it works out having them here.”

But that only lasted a few weeks. Stokes said shortly after, the mom and other pups left, leaving just one behind.

“So I put food out again and water and kept checking him for another week,” he said. “It was two weeks he was out here by himself.”

Stokes named the coyote Drifter.

He said the pup helped with his own illnesses.

“If it was for him I would probably be missing my toe, or my foot, or my leg. Cause I got an infection of the bone,” Stokes said. “I had to make sure I took care of myself so I could take care of him.”

During all the time they bonded, Stokes said he never felt unsafe, which is why he was shocked to receive a call from Waterloo Police that authorities removed Drifter from the property.

The animal is now at Wildthunder Wildlife and Animal Rehabilitation Sanctuary in Independence, IA.

Staff would not appear on camera for an interview, but the owner said the goal was to release Drifter back into the wild, adding that it’s a coyote’s natural born right to be free.

The sanctuary’s owner added it’s dangerous for coyotes to run through neighborhoods.

“He’s never been wild, he’s always been tame,” Stokes said.

Now, he’s fighting to get his coyote back to his home.

“We would lay on the couch on Saturday afternoons and take a nap together,” he said. “He’s my buddy.”

Stokes has a doctor’s note certifying Drifter as an emotional support animal that helps with depression and anxiety. He also plans to apply for a license to keep a dangerous animal through the Iowa Department of Agriculture.

Stokes believes doing so will help both him and Drifter.

“He’ll never make it in the wild,” Stokes said. “He won’t make it a day.”

Animal control officers seized Drifter in October when neighbors reported him wandering the neighborhood. Stokes had told neighbors the coyote was a German shepherd.

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