From Iceland — Man Fights To Keep Arctic Fox As Pet

Man Fights To Keep Arctic Fox As Pet

Published October 25, 2021

Andie Sophia Fontaine
Photo by
Algkalv/Wikimedia Commons

A young Icelandic man is now embroiled in a legal battle to be able to keep an Arctic fox—hereafter referred to by his given name, Gústi Jr.—as a pet. The Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authority (MAST) and the police are now involved, Vísir reports, and much of it hinges upon what the legal definition of a pet is.

Last week, representatives of MAST and the police showed up at the home of Ágúst Bein­teinn Árna­sson with the purpose of seizing Gústi Jr. and delivering him to the zoo, but came up empty-handed when the fox was nowhere to be found. Águst now has the representation of a lawyer, Helgi Silva, in order to fight for custody of Gústi Jr.

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At stake in this matter is the legal definition of a pet. According to Icelandic law, it is illegal to own a wild animal as a pet. Ágúst contends that this does not apply to Gústi Jr., as he has raised the fox from a very young age, and is at this point arguably too old to be returned to the wild.

Furthermore, the letter of the law define a pet as “dogs, cats and other vertebrates”. Foxes are indeed vertebrates, so the law could arguably cover Arctic foxes. That said, reptiles are also vertebrates, but they are expressly forbidden as pets in Iceland. This is however because reptiles are considered invasive species; Arctic foxes are in fact Iceland’s only native land mammal.

All this being the case, Ágúst says he is ready to take the matter to court if the police choose to pursue the case.

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