The owner of a silver fox, reared as a family pet, has revealed her devastation after the animal was taken away and euthanised.
Vader was destroyed in Minot, North Dakota after an anonymous bite report was submitted to local police.
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An online campaign has now been launched after his owners claimed the animal was put down "without just cause."
Eric and Tara Hiatt have told the Huffington Post UK their pet had never even left their home and that the anonymous police report followed threats from animal activists online who disagreed with the couple having a domestic fox.
Officers arrived at Vader's home last week to take him away, without prior warning, Tara said.
A police report states that when Vader was taken away he bit one of the officers, breaking his skin.
"They never made an attempt to use their catch poles," Mrs Hiatt.
"Eric warned the officer no less than three times not to corner or grab at Vader, as he would bite out of fear. The officer completely disregarded this and grabbed him forcefully around the neck."
Mrs Hiatt said The Animal Control officer then informed the couple that Vader would be spending his time at an animal pound. Vader's owner says she handed over all of her pet's vaccination documents and health certificate – documents Minot Police Department deny having, she said.
The officer, Mrs Hiatt said, told the couple they would have a chance to appeal their case should our accuser choose to pursue the matter further.
The next day, they were handed Vader's collar and were told he had been put down.
"There was no warning. No chance to say goodbye," Mrs Hiatt said. "The last thing Vader heard from me was 'It's okay buddy, I'll see you soon, okay?' as I put the muzzle on him for them."
"The point I wish to make is that the officer would have never been bitten had they not entered my home on the word of a third party reporter. Or had they at least let Eric put Vader in the kennel instead.
Vadar's owners ran a popular blog on Tumblr, where they say they had received hate mail on many occasions.
"My biggest fear is that someone who was upset about us having Vader called in a false report simply to have him taken and killed," Mrs Hiatt said.
"Had the police simply asked me to remove Vader from the city, I would have gladly done so- we already planned to.
"A citation is nothing. But the death of my pet has left me devastated.
"Vader gave me a drive and a purpose in my life that I had never had before. I loved him like he was my child.
"Our house is quiet, and our baby is gone. There is nothing heavier than the empty collar that sits in my hands."
Officers have said Mrs Hiatt was cited for keeping a prohibited animal in City Limits and noted that although she had contacted Animals Control in July of 2013, inquiring about having a fox in city limits, she was told foxes are prohibited.
"We were currently struggling with a city ordinance that stated red coloured foxes were illegal in one zone of our city - not the entirety," she said.
"We lived in one of those zones and had been trying to figure out our situation ever since we found out. The sadness in it all is that we had planned to move Vader out of the city within the next few weeks.
"I know Vader never bit anyone, besides the officer. We never left our property with him and he never got introduced to strangers."
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