An Iowa man is fighting to have his “emotional support” coyote returned to him after it was seized by animal authorities earlier this year, The Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier reports. Matthew Stokes claims the coyote, which he named Drifter, became an emotional support animal for him after it allegedly was left behind by his pack. Drifter started approaching Stokes, he claims, and began to get closer to him after he gave it food and water. “He was an orphaned pup looking for a pack. I became his pack,” he said. “This animal is a dog in a coyote’s body,” he said. However, Drifter reportedly roamed the neighborhood in October—which led to a neighbor calling animal control officials. Stokes told neighbors that Drifter was a small German shepherd, but officials identified it as a coyote. The animal was subsequently sent to an animal rehab.
Stokes said he obtained a letter from his doctor certifying Drifter as an emotional support animal to help his depression and anxiety. In addition, he said he was applying for a license to keep a dangerous animal through the U.S. Department of Agriculture and was looking into a state law that would allow Drifter to become an educational animal. The director of the rehab that Drifter is currently working with denied that the coyote could be an emotional support animal, and said their goal was to eventually release it to the wild.