City leaders decided against exploring a ban on pet raccoons and pet foxes after several people spoke for and against it at Tuesday’s Committee of the Whole meeting.
Ward 4 Alderman Rose Spear suggested City Council members discuss expanding the city's list of dangerous and exotic animals after Spears said she received complaints about . According to its Facebook page, the store recently had baby foxes, sugar gliders, bearded dragons, hedgehogs, iguana, and a blood python.
City workers issued nuisance tickets and fines to the store and its landlord based on the smell from the store and gave the store a verbal warning for an animal running at large, City Administrator Bart Olson said in a memo to City Council members.
Pets One owners Kord and Carolyn Krall said they educated potential pet owners about the special needs of each breed and sold animals that had been bred in captivity for several generations.
“These are not dangerous animals,” Kord Krall said. “Of course anything that you are mean to or corner is going to be mean. That is just the way things are.”
Their business also attracts people from far outside Yorkville’s borders, he said.
“We have people coming from all over the country for the things we sell,” Kord Krall said. “It’s because we are doing things right.”
Those speaking against having foxes and raccoons as pets included Kendall County Animal Control Warden Anna Payton and Ashley Folat, director of the Fox Valley Wildlife Center in Elburn.
The Story of One Red Fox
The Fox Valley Wildlife Center is rehabilitating a baby red fox that was purchased at Pets One, Folat said. The original owner gave it to a friend, who turned it over the wildlife center when it was just a few months old. The Kralls offered to return the baby red fox to the breeder, but wildlife center personnel decided to continue to “wild it up” in hopes it can be released in the wild this fall.
Folat said she was concerned the baby fox would not be a good candidate for breeding after being handled by various humans and partially rehabilitated for the wild, so she decided to continue the rehabilitation process. The wildlife center typically handles wild baby foxes whose mother has abandoned them. They are isolated, taught to hunt and find shelter, and released either in the fall or spring after they show signs of being able to survive alone.
The pet baby fox seemed to be progressing toward this, and is a breed that is indigenous to this area, Folat said. The wildlife center has had it for about three weeks.
“It acts just like a red fox,” Folat said. “I have not seen a wagging tail. Its ears go back.”
A Question of Public Policy
Meanwhile, Payton questioned what would happen when other pet foxes and pet raccoons were dumped outside by irresponsible owners. They would be somewhat tame, having been handled by humans, but could be dangerous, especially after they reach sexual maturity. is not equipped to handle these animals, Payton said.
“They are all very cute,” Payton said. “They are all very loving as babies. But when they hit maturity, their behavior changes.”
She urged City Council members to take action before someone was injured.
“It is so much better to be proactive than reactive,” Payton said.
After listening to comments from the public, Spears, Ward 2 Alderman Larry Kot, and Ward 1 Alderman Carlo Colosimo advocated for researching which animals might be dangerous or banned in other communities. Other aldermen nixed the idea, so it was dropped.
Spears suggested Pets One should limit itself to animals other pet stores sell.
“I’m not trying to get rid of the business; I’m not trying to give them a hard time,” Spear said, before suggesting the pet foxes and pet raccoons could present a public safety concern.
Ward 1 Alderman George Gilson Jr. said his children, who range in age from 3 to 8, have been to Pets One several times. Gilson was impressed that Pets One personnel suggested his son get a gecko rather than a chameleon because a chameleon might be too complicated for a child of his age.
But Kot was concerned about what happened after the exotic pets, such as foxes, left the store.
“The problem I have is that the victim becomes the child who lives next door to the person who is not responsible,” Kot said.
But, Gilson replied, irresponsible dog owners can present safety concerns for neighbors, too.
“We don’t outlaw everyone from having a dog,” Gilson said.