He looked into its eyes, and it looked right back into his. He felt terror welling up inside him as he saw it, crouched under the table. All he could discern was that it was black and furry, but he had never seen anything like it before. At first, he thought it was a dog... but those eyes... his gut told him that there was something off about them. Holding his baby to his chest, he ran.
Animal lover and former RSPCA inspector Amanda Lovett was going about her business as usual. She ran a cattery called Mere Moggies near Cheshire, England, and there was always work to be done. From feeding and grooming the cats in her care to rallying for animal welfare in her spare time, she was an active advocate for animals. She had been extra vigilant with the security of her cattery of late, however.
There had been a spate of sightings in Cheshire over the past few weeks of an unknown animal. Those who saw it firsthand had no idea what the creature was... but they all agreed on one thing: it was dark-colored -- almost black -- and rather feline in appearance. The people of Cheshire were terrified.
Anna McArdle, a primary school teacher at Excalibur Primary School, ventured outside when she heard her partner, David Scott, yell in fear. “He’d gone out with the baby and I heard him shouting that there’s a wild animal and he was a bit panicked by it,” she recalled. But she was not prepared for what she found there, in her own backyard.
Anna was familiar with the animals around Alsager, but she took a double-take at the animal that was silently sitting in her garden. “I thought it was a dog at first as it was just sitting under the table,” she said. It had piercing yellow eyes. Then it dawned on her: this was no dog.
Anna took to Facebook with a photo of the ominous animal, posting it on her community page in hopes of it being identified. It wouldn't move from her backyard, and she needed to know if it was dangerous. Comments started flooding in, and then the photo got the attention of one particular organization.
Amanda Lovett also saw the post on Facebook, and immediately knew what she had to do. She quickly retrieved a cat carrier and a grasper and rushed to the home in Dunnocksfold Road to capture the animal. Meanwhile, Anna and Paul stayed indoors. But the animal refused to leave. They watched it through the window as it sat, staring at them. What did it want?
Soon, Facebook community pages were a flurry of activity. Everyone was astounded that the mystery animal had finally been photographed, and everyone speculated as to what it could be. Amanda Lovett had an inkling as to what they were dealing with as she raced to Anna's home. But would she make it in time?
Conservation blog - DoC
Amanda arrived at the Alsager home and was met by the worried homeowner. She was led to the backyard, and there the creature was. She couldn't believe her eyes. This was the animal that people had been calling the "Harbinger of Doom". She quickly got to work trying to capture the animal. She set up her cat carrier and bravely shooed it inside.
The animal that had taken refuge in Anna's garden was a silver fox and was incredibly rare. So rare, in fact, that superstitious medieval folklore says that spotting one will bring misfortune to all who see it. A a silver fox had not been seen in the area for 25 years. But where had he come from?
Yahoo News UK
“They can be native because they’re basically red foxes with other coloration but they are very rare," an RSPCA spokesperson said. “He kept looking as if he wanted to get in the house,” explained Amanda. “We shooed him into the utility room where I was able to calm him down and put him in a cat box,” she added.
With the mystery animal now captured and identified, Amanda rushed him to Stapeley Grange Wildlife Center, where the staff was kind enough to stay open a little longer than usual to take in this very special admission. Everyone at the rescue center was awed by the rare silver fox, and they quickly checked him over for any injuries.
Stapeley Grange Wildlife Centre
“This one is quite tame and slightly overweight so we believe he was kept as a pet,” Lee Stewart, manager of the center explained. “He is the first silver fox we have ever had here at Stapeley Grange, in nearly 25 years we have been open. He is an impressive-looking animal and it has been interesting to us all to have such a rare admission.”
About Pet Life
The staff at the rescue center quickly fell in love with the beautiful fox and named him Shadow. He appears to be doing well at the center, and the RSPCA has appealed to the public to help find his owners. If his owners are not found, he will be rehomed with an experienced fox keeper.
Silver foxes are genetically identical to red foxes, but the main difference is in their pigmentation -- or fur color -- which can range from silver to almost completely black. These poor creatures were bred for the fur industry, but are now more commonly being kept as pets. But the RSPCA has some advice on the matter.
Anyone considering getting a pet of any kind needs to research the animal's needs thoroughly before making such a commitment. An RSPCA spokesman said: “Exotic pets can live a long time, grow to a large size and need to be taken an exotics vet if they become ill, which can be expensive."
“Foxes are wild animals with very specific needs no different to foxes living in the wild and they require specialist care. Even the most experienced fox experts have had difficulty keeping adult foxes successfully. Therefore, the RSPCA does not advise or condone keeping foxes as pets.” As the owner of Shadow still had not come forward, the RSPCA suspects that he was abandoned.
Anna McArdle, who found the fox in her garden, said: “I doubt it would be able to be released into the wild. It’s a real shame foxes like that are domesticated.” The story of the silver fox quickly hit the local and international newspapers, and it went viral in a matter of hours, with thousands of comments on the post from all over the world.
People have become enamoured with the rare fox, and even Anna was astounded at how quickly the post spread from multiple news sources on Facebook. Some commenters were enchanted by the fox's beauty, with comments like: "What a stunning animal!" "Beautiful!", while others reflected on the silver fox's plight.
Jake & Susan's Wild Indiana
"15 million bred and killed for the fur trade every year, with London being the world's largest buyer of that fur. Shame on us we have written them out of history. You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed". Hopefully, Shadow's story has raised awareness about these beautiful and rare animals, and put to rest the myth that they are omens of bad luck.