Rochester man says his pet fox was killed for 'sport'
A Rochester man's pet fox was shot and killed by a bow hunter on Friday — the same day a story about their relationship was published in the city's newspaper.
The owner, Cody Prudoehl, posted to his personal Facebook account on Sunday that his fox, Emil, had died two days earlier and a memorial service was being held that night. Emil was 6 1/2 months old, according to Prudoehl.
"The day the article ran, I went to his cage to find it was wide open and he was gone," Prudoehl said in a message to the Med City Beat. "Shortly after, I contacted the community service officer that has been helping with him and she made sure the entire police force knew to keep a look out for him."
According to a police report, the fox got out of its cage Friday afternoon and began wandering the area. A neighbor saw what he thought was a wild animal and shot Emil with his bow and arrow.
The neighbor told officers that because the animal was so friendly, he was concerned that it could have rabies. He had never seen a black fox and planned to mount the animal on his wall, notes the report.
It wasn't until the neighbor read a story about Prudoehl and Emil in the Post-Bulletin Friday night that he realized he had shot a pet. He called animal control, which picked up Emil's body and returned his remains to Prudoehl.
Because the animal was domesticated, Rochester Police Lt. Mike Sadauskis said the DNR will not cite the neighbor for a game violation. The city's attorney office will review whether he was in violation of a city ordinance restricting the use of bow and arrow.
"This man is a hunter and shot him for sport and because he anticipated getting him stuffed to show his hunting buddies," Prudoehl said. "If you suspect an animal has rabies, you call animal control. You don't shoot it."
Prudoehl, who recently moved here from Michigan where he had a license for an exotic pet, had recently been told by animal control he had 10 days to remove Emil from city limits. While there is no state law on exotic animals, a city ordinance lists foxes in the same category as skunks and raccoons, none of which are allowed to be kept as pets.
He told the P-B last week that he planned to petition the council to make a change for Emil. He told us on Sunday that he still plans to speak to the council regarding the issue of domesticated foxes, which he said are "fantastic pets."
Unlike other common pets, people only began domesticating foxes 50 years ago. The idea started in Russia and has been slowly making its way to the U.S.
There are now several breeders nationwide, like the one in Indiana where Emil came from, that sell pet foxes for $400-600. Research suggests that foxes can behave much like a cat or dog in a domesticated setting.
Correction: A prior version of this article misstated that the fox was 6 1/2 years old, when he was actually 6 1/2 months old.
(Cover photo: Cody Prudoehl)