'Pet' coyote removed from Oak Harbor family

OAK HARBOR -- A largely domesticated coyote won't be allowed to visit one Oak Harbor family after wildlife officials moved the animal out of the area after it was shot by nearby hunters.

A story in the Whidbey News-Times details the life of a "pet" coyote and one area woman, Jennifer Horn, who cared for the animal since birth.

Horn told the News-Times that some years ago, a group of hunters brought an infant coyote to her after they found it stranded on a trail. Horn, a mother of two, said she fed the baby coyote goat milk and nursed it back to health in her house. It was there that  the coyote quickly became a fixture in the Horn's life, playing with the cat and enjoying tummy rubs.

"From day one, he immediately had my heart," Horn told the News-Times.

But the Horn family recognized it wasn't proper to house a wild animal full-time in their home. So they let the coyote go into the 10-acre woods on their property The pup grew up, but would never stray far, Horn told the News Times. For years she spent time calling the coyote back to her home, and he would again return for his favorite belly rubs and a snack. Horn said the coyote never tried to attack her cat or make any aggressive movements toward her children. She said it was as much a pet as any animal could be.

"He was my baby."

So naturally, when the coyote returned to the Horn household suffering from a shotgun wound to the face, she took it to a veterinarian. But Washington law makes it illegal to keep or house a pet, and once the coyote recovered at the hospital, it was taken to a wildlife sanctuary in Sequim, Wash. Wildlife officials even spoke of levying a $5,000 fine to Horn for keeping and harboring a wild animal. Veterinarian Eric Anderson said the law is meant to protect animals as much as people.

"I caution the public not to try to raise these animal," Anderson said. "It's going to ultimately lead to their demise."

Horn said she is sad her favorite coyote has been taken away, and it will be hard for her. Still, she is happy he is alive.

"It's pretty hard to deal with," Horn told the News-Times. "But I try to focus on what's best for him."

To read the full feature story, click here.