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What does the fox say?

"I'm innocent, don't shoot!"

Oh wait! Too soon?

Well, I apologize, but apparently that's the case in Arroyo Grande if you're a gray fox hanging out in the Village and harassing the chickens. At least it was because of whoever tattled to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Services about this cute-as-a-button carnivore, which got euthanized by a contract trapper.

City residents were pissed! They showed up to the Nov. 28 City Council meeting to scold its elected officials, who, incidentally, had nothing to do with what transpired.

IMHO, ya'll should figure out who called the animal police and make that person weep with remorse over what they did by inundating them with that cute video of the fox playing with a puppy. Lock them in a room with it and put it on repeat. That ought to do the trick.

However, our furry friend had to be killed because it had become dependent on humans, leaving the feds with "no other options." Well, it was cute, so those humans in the Village tried to pet it, take its picture, feed it, make it social media famous—you know, they treated it like a domesticated animal.

"This fox was not vicious. It was like someone's dog being taken out and killed," Arroyo Grande resident Cleo Stanley told councilmembers.

Ummm ... nope. Not the same thing at all, Cleo. Let me explain. A fox is a wild animal. A dog is an animal that has been domesticated for centuries, and as far as I can tell, there isn't a GoFundMe campaign set up to help raise money for the medical expenses of the dog that was shot four times over Thanksgiving weekend by SLO County Sheriff's Office deputies in Paso Robles. But, there is one that's raised more than $2,000 out of a $15,000 goal to put a fox memorial in the Village.

Am I missing something? Oh, right. Hercules is a dog, but that little puppy is also a pit bull. It's not the equivalent of a wild fox. But if it were a fox, would sheriff's deputies have put four bullets in it? I'm guessing the answer is no.

Oh, right. The dog was barking and growling at the officers, who claim he eventually lunged at one. They were responding to a noise complaint and hadn't been able to make contact with the home's residents yet. Basically, young Herc was doing what dogs do, protecting his property from strangers, strangers who didn't leave when he gave them the warning signal. And apparently deputies felt the best way to handle that situation, in front of a family home with children sleeping inside of it, was to stand their ground and utilize their handguns—not their stun guns or pepper spray or their spotlight or bull horn.

Bullets. Yep, that's definitely the best way to deal with a noise complaint and a barking dog. Thank goodness that bully breed is tough, and Hercules is making a strong recovery.

Either way, Cleo, that is the equivalent of taking someone's dog and attempting to kill it. And unfortunately, the fox had to be euthanized because it was too used to people. It's not like the fox could have remained in the Village, harassing the chickens. The chickens were there first!

If residents truly wanted to save this fox, they should have contacted a wildlife care organization before treating it like a domesticated animal.

As Vivian Krug Cotton put it to AG City Council members: "We failed this fox." And in order to not forget that failure, she helped set up the GoFundMe campaign to erect a memorial to the gray fox.

Frankly, there are a lot of things that deserve a memorial in this county.

For instance, the SLO County Jail inmates who have died in custody. There have been three this year. The most recent death was 62-year-old Russell Alan Hammer, who died of a blood clot in his lungs on Nov. 27. Twelve inmates have died in SLO County custody since 2012. We've definitely failed them, wouldn't you say? Where's the GoFundMe for their memorial? Or better yet, is anyone raising money to run against Sheriff Ian Parkinson in next year's election?

The FBI is investigating Parkinson's jail for civil rights abuses due to the deaths. The county had to fork over $5 million to the family of Andrew Holland, an inmate who died of a blood clot in his lungs after being placed in a restraint chair for 46 hours in January.

Coincidentally, on Nov. 27 Jeff Hamm announced that he would be resigning as the director of the county's Health Agency in April, which makes it seem like he's the only person who's been pegged as accountable for what's happened at the county jail.

We're going to search nationwide to find his replacement, to find someone who could "continue addressing our community's challenging health system problems and concerns, including the mental health treatment of county jail inmates," according to the county. Holland was awaiting transfer to a mental health facility when he died, and Hammer was undergoing a court-ordered mental health evaluation. But something tells me the blame for treatment of county jail inmates doesn't fall squarely on the Health Agency.

Maybe we can start a GoFundMe for inmate health care. Δ

The Shredder wants a pet fox and a memorial. Send comments to shredder@newtimesslo.com.


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