Move over, Disney. This is Fox and the Hound 2.0
When an Australian farmer discovered a baby fox (called a "kit") in his field, he immediately went searching for a gun.
European red foxes are a non-native species to Australia, and are considered pests. The Australian government has instituted a threat abatement plan to reduce the fox population, and encourages property owners to kill foxes they encounter on their land.
Fortunately for this particular kit, the farmer's neighbors, who owned a gun, weren't home. So instead, the farmer called a rescue group to come remove the little fox.
Sydney Fox Rescue, an organization that specializes in rescuing and rehoming kits, brought the baby fox to its facility. Rescue workers named him Willa and treated him for tick paralysis before rehoming him and another kit named Athena at Sugarshine Sanctuary, located in New South Wales, Australia.
Sadly, Athena fell victim to a python several days after arriving at Sugarshine. Willa was lonely and out of sorts after losing his companion. Then, he made the acquaintance of Isabel (a.k.a. Izzy), Sugarshine's resident retired racing Greyhound.
Much like Willa, Isabel was a rescue herself. When she was no longer valuable as a racer, her owner took her to the veterinarian to be euthanized. A woman overheard the owner's request and intervened. She took Isabel to a local Greyhound rescue group, where she was adopted by Kelly Nelder, Sugarshine Sanctuary's co-founder.
Isabel and Willa quickly bonded.
"Isabel has a very gentle and tolerant nature...She'll let Willa jump all over her, steal her food and snuggle against her tummy," Nelder told the Dodo.
Now, Willa and Isabel spend their days enjoying each other's company. They play together, eat together, and snuggle together. They've even taken a field trip to the beach!
According to Nelder, Willa is fascinated by Isabel's tail.
"He sneaks behind her, stares at her tail for awhile, then pounces. If he gets hold of her tail he tries to take it to his hidey spot with his toys. He doesn't seem to realize that Isabel's permanently attached!"
Sugarshine is home to several other foxes as well- Blossom, Toffee, and Custard all call the sanctuary home.
Since Willa was rescued, several Australian states have enacted a pest control order, making it illegal for individuals to keep foxes as pets. Fortunately, Willa was registered as a pet before the ban took effect, so he can live out his days at Sugarshine.
However, other foxes won't be so lucky. The pest control order prohibits not only the rescue and rehoming of foxes, but also requires that injured and orphaned foxes be euthanized.
Nelder strongly opposes the ban.
"Yes, wild foxes can be deadly to wildlife, but if kept in enclosures and well cared for, they are no longer a threat but are beautiful funny animals with loads of personality. They shouldn't be killed just for being born a fox, but unfortunately the current pest order means just that."
You can read more about Sugarshine Sanctuary and its lifesaving work by clicking here.
All Photos by Sugarshine Farm Sanctuary via The Dodo.