The weekend before last, just after dark, the family was enjoying a peaceful evening at home when suddenly they heard a piercing, screaming noise from the garden. They rushed to the French windows at the back of their flat to see an appalling sight: their beloved pet — a gentle, playful dog smaller than a tabby cat — dangling from the jaws of a fox. Horrible — and frightening.
To make matters worse, Chico was also covered in fox urine.Oh noes! How awful!
But what made matters worse for her and the family was the attitude they say they found when they took the animal to their local RSPCA branch in Putney, South-West London.Errr, hang on? They took it to an RSPCA branch? For people on low incomes?
When a chihuahua puppy costs upwards of £250, sometimes as high as £500?
Something odd here...
While the Brewsters are grateful the vet saved their dog’s life, they are angry and bemused by the way Britain’s premier animal charity treats the threat from urban foxes.The non-threat, you mean?
...when he took their dog in for treatment, the staff seemed more concerned with the welfare of foxes than their pet. Once the surgeon had patched up Chico, ‘we were told that they wouldn’t treat our dog again unless we had him castrated,’ says Richard. ‘Why can’t the foxes be castrated?’Because they are wild animals. And because if you are careful and don't leave a snack-sized animal out in the garden unattended after dark, you'll have few problems, despite the evident hysteria of the 'Mail'.
Richard asked what would happen if he used an air rifle to kill the fox. ‘They told me they would prosecute me for animal cruelty.’Quite rightly too, it being a totally unsuitable weapon even in the hands of an expert.
I can speak from personal experience about the brazenness of the urban fox.Oh, yeah. You, and a lot of your colleagues, right?
Shortly before my son was born, my wife was watching TV on the sofa one night. We’d left the conservatory doors open because it was a warm summer evening. My wife looked up — to find a fox standing 6ft from her.
Eight months’ pregnant, she was petrified — but when she screamed the animal didn’t flinch. Happily, he left the house without further incident, though we now keep a barrier across the back door whenever we leave it open.It's dingoes that steal babies, you idiot. And they wait until they are born.
One of our neighbours was not so lucky.Really? As unlucky as poor Mr Clarke?
They discovered a fox in an upstairs bedroom, seeking sanctuary on top of a wardrobe. Not knowing what to do, they screamed and shouted and shooed it towards the back door.Whereupon it turned on them, sinking its killing fangs into their defenceless throats before rampaging around London and climbing the Post Office Tower?
The fox panicked and left the house, leaving a trail of faeces all the way down their stairs.Oh. Is that it..? Is that all?
Bruce Lindsay-Smith runs a company called County Pest Control, and has been dealing with urban foxes in and around London for 37 years. When I call him, he is on his way to the home of a chihuahua-owner in Hampstead to cull a fox who has been wandering into houses. He regularly deals with foxes who eat dogs, and says the problem is getting worse.Well, he would, wouldn't he?
Lindsay-Smith says: ‘Foxes do kill dogs and eat them. I’m talking about small breeds — miniature Yorkshire terriers, chihuahuas, pomeranians and so on. These attacks are much more commonplace than they used to be because foxes are becoming more brazen.Ah. Right. And that's nothing at all to do with the fact that there's just more of these bite-sized dogs around than there ever used to be?
Which is a rather more bizarre phenomenon than urban foxes trying new prey. It can't all be down to the popularity of some flash-in-the-pan Hollywood flick, can it?
None of this washes with the Brewsters, nor one suspects with any of the hundreds of owners whose pets are likely to be attacked this year — partly as a result of the attitude of a charity that boasts: ‘We’ve been here looking out for animals since 1824.’Errr, I don't see how. Can foxes read?
But when the RSPCA’s spokeswoman says that it cares ‘just as much about dogs and cats as it does about foxes’, aren’t we entitled to respond: shouldn’t it care more about our pets than about the animals which prey on them? Surely foxes are pests?
Isn’t that what the millions who have donated to the charity over the years would want?Probably not, no. But then I rather doubt that the RSPCA cares about what the donor wants anyway. And I don't see anyone up in arms about that.
So it comes down to personal responsibility again - would you leave £500 out in your garden unattended? No? Well, don't leave a snack-sized walking £500 out either. Simples! And your faithful companion is in more danger from the local Staffies anyway.
Looking at the comments from the idiots unwilling to accept that nature's red in tooth and claw, I think George Monbiot's 'rewilding' pipe dream is going to stay just that...