An Interview with The Fox Project

What is The Fox Project?

The Fox Project is a wildlife hospital, information bureau and humane deterrence consultancy, all specializing in the Red Fox.


What does The Fox Project have planned for 2013?

Pretty much going on as we are. Last year, we moved into a new wildlife hospital, which took everything up a notch. It would be nice if we could have a quiet year – time and space to settle in.

Is that likely?

No! Last year we admitted 640 casualty foxes and THAT was a quiet year, possibly because the fox population fell slightly – a natural phenomena with self-regulating species like the fox. But we normally take in around 750 per year and I expect 2013 will be typical.

Is the new wildlife hospital making a difference to what you can do?

Yes. The Fox Project has struggled for 20 years with converted premises, spending valuable funds on annual renovations just to stand still. We’ve always prided ourselves on hygiene and efficiency but it’s so much easier when everything is new and designed for the purpose.

I suppose spring, when the cubs are born, is your busiest period?

We usually receive around 250 cubs along with all the adult foxes. Vixens are only in season for three days a year, all around the same time. Because of that concentration, half the year’s patient intake arrives in one quarter of the year! The majority are rescued by our three wildlife ambulance drivers and 40 local volunteer rescuers. Others come from RSPCA and organizations outside our area that don’t have suitable facilities.

What happens with the cubs? How do you get them back to the wild when they’ve become accustomed to humans?

Even those brought up on the bottle usually revert to wild by the time they’re twelve weeks old. Humans are useful in that they bring food and water and change the sawdust but that’s their only real purpose! But of course, we have a well-regulated program to prevent and undo bonding between cubs and humans. We must have this, or they could go back to the wild trusting people and that’s not in their best interest.

How do you feel about the adverse publicity some newspapers give to foxes?

Without wanting to sound like a conspiracy theorist, some of those papers have a pro-hunting agenda and support repeal of the Hunting Act. We always do what we can try to investigate stories about foxes attacking people and no case thus far stands up to scrutiny. There’s usually a hidden agenda, like wanting the local authority to remove foxes from someone’s property – which, as foxes are not classified as ‘vermin’, councils are not legally obliged to do. Sometimes it’s an attempt to divert attention from an attack on a child by the family’s own pet and to avoid the media shame that would inevitably follow. But the most common fears are based on simple misunderstandings.

How do you combat that misunderstanding?

Years before we opened a wildlife hospital The Fox Project was a fox information bureau. It still is, and an important aspect of that is to make knowledge of the species readily available. Like so much in life, it’s an ongoing battle of truth and reality v. myth and prejudice.

So why the fox?

It’s an admirable survivor, intelligent, resourceful, adaptable, humorous, good natured and beautiful – traits we might admire in the best of people. It has suffered too long from ignorance and superstition. We owe it.




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Ethical Pet of the Month – Feb 2013

Ethical Pet of the Month Logo

Bear and Flo

Ethical Pets of the Month, February 2013

A Few words from Jojo, Flo and Bears guardian.

My daughter and I re-homed Bear after he had 3 previous owners during the first 11 months of his life – he had been returned to the the original breeders and then been bought ‘on impulse’. He was there for 2 weeks before this owner put him up to be re-homed again. He was a nervous little fella, although bonded with my daughter and myself immediately. He showed signs of being afraid of men, and was fiercely protective of us, so we took him for a few sessions with an amazing dog communicator and healer called Julia Meads, who worked wonders – Bear and I both literally floated out of those sessions!

photo of Bear and Flo
“Our Pekingese x Pomeranian (left) is called Bear and our Cavalier King Charles Spaniel (right) is called Little Miss Florrie Belle, shortened to Flo.”

We re-homed Flo when she was 14 weeks old from a really lovely family. They were finding having a puppy around quite stressful following a family bereavement – it was a hard decision for them to make, but at the end of the day they simply wanted her to go to a loving home who could provide her with everything she needed. She adores Bear and they are always together.

Bear will be 3 years old in April and is a big ‘toy and cuddles’ fan. They are best of friends: for example, if you throw a toy for them both, Flo will always get there first but she will always let Bear pick it up! He will return his favourite toy, a soft squeaky bagel (slightly random dog toy, I have to say!), and prod you with it to encourage you to throw it again. He is ‘fluff on a stick’ and has to be groomed constantly which he adores… he only has to spot his brush and he’s on his back! He gets a lot of attention on our walks, children have asked “is he a cat?” and “is he a lion?”!

Flo is now 14 months old and LOVES LIFE! She is full of energy, LOVES her food, she ‘sings’ when excited: she is inquisitive, clever and funny. She will happily sit and watch the television, especially if there are animals on the screen. Her party piece is her ‘commando crawl’ across the floor, always first thing in the morning. She’s a bit of a tease too and often wafts her bum around Bear’s face to get his attention – she has even been seen to do it to our cat, Blackie. She has very long legs, she’s often referred to as Tigger because she bounces up and down – especially when I’m serving up her dinner!
Flo and Bear are just so much fun, so loving… simply perfect companions. They encourage me to get out and about, as they are walked 3 time a day, and we have made some lovely friends this way. They make my day, EVERY day.

Jojo on the Ethical Pets products:
Every day they have a Vegan Mini Toothbrush on return from their morning walk, helping to keep their nashers clean, the cat usually appears at this point too! We have also tried them both on a couple of types of vegan wet food, after attending one of Anna’s inspirational talks on Vegan pets, and seeking her personal advice as they are both pretty sensitive when it comes to what I feed them. The vegan wet food wasn’t 100% successful, a few upset-tummies etc, but the Benevo Vegan Small Dog Dried Food is going okay so far! Also, we love the Wild Olive Tea-Tree Soap Bars – I have had to wash them twice this weekend due to the snow melting – I have never seen them so dirty – but now they both smell divine and their fur feels amazing! It’s much better than the shampoos and conditioners we used to get from the local pet shop 🙂

JoJo x

About JoJo
JoJo, and her daughter Amber Lily, have lived in Abingdon, Oxfordshire for 2 years. She yearned to live in a rural environment, closer to her family and somewhere for Amber Lily to grow up within a friendly, safe community. Jojo works from home as a freelance graphic designer. Once fully installed in the countryside, she seized the opportunity to get a couple of new additions to he family – and now enjoys beautiful river-side and county walks with Amber Lily, Bear and Flo. The dogs are also a big fan of Jojo’s partner John, who they see as their “big play thing!”

Shep: Reporting Live Vol.1

Shep recently interviewed Sarah Graham, Communications Assistant at The Dogs Trust. Here is a full transcript.

Christmas was fun for me, I slept by the fire mostly. What do the dogs in Dogs Trust sanctuaries do at Christmas?


Once they are all cleaned and fed, all the dogs go for lovely long walk. Staff spend all day with the dogs to make sure they all enjoy their day and get lots of fuss and attention. All the dogs will also get a special treat out of their stocking – a special chew or a toy. All the dogs have stockings and the sponsored dogs proudly display their Christmas Cards from their sponsors. There is a Christmas tree in reception and the staff wear festive Santa hats.


So do people still get Dogs for Christmas (and not for life?)



I’m afraid so. 34 years ago Dogs Trust created the famous slogan “A Dog is for Life, Not Just for Christmas” – but sadly it appears that many people still buy dogs as presents without proper thought being given to the responsibilities involved. Each year we see around 100 dogs dumped at our re-homing centres over the Christmas period. We regret to say that 2012 was no different. It seems that people are still giving puppies as Christmas presents without considering the long term ramifications. Dogs can provide a world of happiness and enjoyment, and we urge anyone considering a new addition to the family to ‘think life’ and carefully consider the individual needs of the dog’s breed too.


Where do all the Christmas dogs come from?



Sadly one of the most popular places to buy dogs is online. Dogs Trust acknowledges that the Internet is an accessible way of purchasing gifts quickly, but the impulse buying of pets and animals poses the enormous risk of attracting many unscrupulous breeders. Consumers could, unintentionally, end up purchasing a pet from a puppy farm that has been trafficked into the UK. Such puppies often have physical and behavioral problems as a result of poor breeding conditions and traumatic transportation. To help prevent people thoughtlessly buying or giving a dog as Christmas present, Dogs Trust centers did not re-home dogs between the 22nd and 29th of December (22nd December to 2nd January in Scotland). People were still able to visit and reserve a dog, but were not be able to take it home until the New Year

Were there any Dogs Trust miracles this Christmas?


Dogs Trust Glasgow was broken into four times during the Christmas period. Not only did the charity lose equipment, but some of the dogs became very distressed by the trauma and the centre was forced to close for a short period of time. In the midst of this turmoil, however, a Christmas miracle took place as dedicated staff helped a three year old Jack Russell Terrier, called Josie, give birth to a litter of seven pups on Christmas eve. The pups are all doing really well and have all been reserved to go to their loving new homes when they are old enough.

Here’s Josie and her pups, all doing well!

Ethical Pet of the Month – January 2013

Ethical Pet of the Month LogoMaggs

Ethical Pet of the Month, January 2013

A few words by Andy, Magg’s guardian.

Maggs appeared a few months back outside the house, looking forlorn and bedraggled. The neighbors had taken her into their porch and made a make-shift bed for her whilst we all tried to find out if she had an owner. One evening Charlie, my wife, took her in because she was in distress with fleas and the cold – and she’s been here to this day.

She impressed herself upon us with her warm nature and never gave up sitting at the door or coming to greet us… We had never had a pet before and were somewhat reluctant to take her on – but we did, and we have never regretted having her, although the first few weeks were tough because she really wasn’t very well. There were times we thought she might be too poorly to survive – but she made it and rewards our patience with loyalty.

She is an amazing cat – the vet has told us that she is 10 years old – but she is really still active and she clings to the human touch. When I’m working at home she stays by my side and sits on my lap whilst I am editing photos and videos. She sleeps in the kitchen at night and in the morning, as you open the kitchen door, you glimpse her curled paw around the door edge prizing it open to greet you. Although she has lost her miaow – she never stops trying.

Out of all the things in her lovely Ethical Pets hamper, she most adores her bed (the mouse is a close second). Because of her ordeal she craves security and warmth and spends much of her time in there, as you might imagine.

Andy Marshall is an award wining architectural photographer and an award wining social media wizard. He was kind enough to give us some help with social media when we founded Ethical Pets (and knew nothing of Twitter!). At first, we were surprised to hear that Andy had adopted a cat: his studio is tidy and meditative and his mind, totally focused on cameras and buildings… We couldn’t quite picture a noisy, demanding, mouse-dragging cat about the house. But then, we met Maggs… gentle, patient, neat and very affectionate: the perfect cat for a sensitive photographer type! If only she could give our cats some lessons…

Here is our favorite Andy Marshall Art work:

Ethical Buisness: Ethical Life. Vol 2.

Welcome to Ethical Business: Ethical Life – we aimEBEL logo to showcase the people behind the amazing Ethical Businesses we meet through running Ethical Pets.This second edition is about our friends at Riverflow Clothing: they live on a beautiful red boat and sell fair trade clothes at affordable prices – it’s hard not to like them! Riverflow are a family of four and a half: there is Miriam, Matt and then Caleb and Flynn (5 ½ year old twins) and a bump on the way, due in April! They also live with their dog called Ella, who they rescued from from Birmingham Dogs Home. Ella was a “death row dog” – due to be put down the very next day. Thank goodness for Riverflow eh?!

Why did you set up Riverflow Clothing?

We’ve both worked jobs before that have either involved lining someone else’s, already very well lined, pockets or compromising our beliefs. Or both. So, Riverflow Clothing was born out of a desire to work for ourselves and to earn our money in a way that didn’t compromise our ethics and values. We don’t want to make money at the expense of others or the environment, so we try to ensure our business has the minimum negative impact possible. Everything we sell is fairly traded and ethically sourced, and our packaging is biodegradable or compostable too!

We get our stock by buying up samples, previous season and end of line stock from several fair trade importers, which means we can pass on the saving we make by offering everything at prices we’d be prepared to pay ourselves. Also, pretty much everything we stock is unique; it’s rare we have 2 of the same item.

the riverflow boat in the summerWhen did you set up and how did it go?

We set up just over a year ago. Matt was working full time so we sold at the odd event here and there to test the water. It was a slow and sometimes disheartening start. There were a lot of initial expenses, aside from the stock itself and rails etc, we’ve had to buy a box trailer to store everything and a stall frame for outdoor events. It’s also always a gamble booking new events, sometimes you pay a hefty stall fee and footfall is really low or it’s just the wrong sort of event. We made a few bad choices to start with but then, we had a stall at a local music festival in the summer and did really well which was a massive confidence boost. Since then we’ve been more selective about which events we book and have found it’s well worth traveling a distance for the right events.

Do you enjoy your work?

When we have a stall at an ethical event, it doesn’t feel like working: we get to spend the day together as a family and meet a whole bunch of lovely people. We’re definitely on the look out for more of those this year.

Riverflow is not the only work we do however. Miriam works a couple of days a week in a local charity shop and Matt has does some freelance website design. We’re not into profit yet with the clothing and don’t know if we’ll ever make enough to lithe twins playing in the show by the boatve on it exclusively – but we’ve grown a lot in a year though and feel like we’ve got a better idea of what we’re doing now!

Describe an average day in the life of you.

The most important thing to us is our family. We try to spend as much time together as possible – something that doing events allows. Do we have an unusual lifestyle? We’re a home educating, vegan, TV free, co-sleeping, attachment parenting, nomadic, live-a-board family. Whether that’s unusual depends on your perspective, but I guess to most people it probably is.

An average day? There isn’t one! As much as possible we try to make sure one of us is available to spend time exclusively with/on the boys. What we’re doing though varies day to day and depends on so much. Matt works mostly from home but Miri is in a different couple of days at the charity shop each week. There are home ed. groups we go to. We have stalls at events. There are lots of chores living on a boat too, so we might have to move the boat to fill life on the waterwayswith water or fuel, take washing to the launderette, visit the builders merchant for a new gas bottle or take recycling and rubbish to the tip. This time of year there’s always wood to fetch and cut. Never appreciated the phrase “there’s not enough hours in the day” as a kid but can completely relate to it now!

What are your ethical principles and how do they guide and motivate you?

We try to have the biggest positive impact and smallest negative impact that we can in everything we do. We don’t really subscribe to any particular set of beliefs as is but veganism, sustainability, fair trade, permaculture, unschooling, attachment parenting, non aggression principle, libertarianism, anarchy and volintarism all come into it somewhere along the way.

We’re fortunate to know a whole bunch of lovely people from different backgrounds and with massively different lifestyles and beliefs. It often makes for interesting conversations and ones that challenge, or make you reaffirm, what you think and do.

Any words of wisdom?

‘Anything is slavery if it isn’t in your heart’

Inner Terrestrials – Thirty Pieces

Ethical Pet of the Month – December 2012

Ethical Pet of the Month LogoRosie

Ethical Pet of the Month, December 2012

A few words by Debbie, Rosie’s guardian.

My partner Paul & I decided to get a dog because he was in the RAF & was spending many months of the year away. We thought a dog would be good company for me & would also encourage us both out in the beautiful countryside. I wanted to rescue a dog as we felt that there were so many dogs who needed rehoming & we wanted to give one a second chance.

So, the hunt was on!

I found a sad, skinny looking girl on the website of the Bath Cats & Dogs Home. She was underweight & had sore, red & swollen eyes. But those eyes…

We spent time with her, & the decision was made: Rosie was coming home to us!

photo of rosie before addoption
"She was underweight & had sore, red & swollen eyes..."

Her history was vague. She was 2 years old & we were to be her third owners. Her previous owners had taken her to the dogs home telling them she was a stray, but they then proceeded to fill the staff in on her entire medical history! 

The first few months were difficult: Rosie had many behavioural problems as a result of not being socialized. She was very sensitive to dietary changes so we had to choose her food carefully. She also displayed some upsetting signs that she had been abused by her previous owners. We would take one step forward & two back: it took patience & time, but now, two years on, Rosie is the most loving, loyal, happy friend we could ask for.

She loves people & has learned how to play gently with other dogs. She is wiggly & always wagging her tail. She also spends almost 22 hours a day sleeping! 

I work shifts & Rosie has made it her mission to be attentive to my strange sleeping patterns by always being by my side come day or night, fast asleep on her back, legs in the air snoring like a train! 

 Rosie is the most loving, loyal, happy friend we could ask for… She is wiggly & always wagging her tail!

Which brings me on to our friends at Ethical Pets! Sadly, Rosie began to suffer from unexpected & unexplained panic attacks. They were so distressing for her & we were exhausted from nights awake with her, trying to calm her down & reassure her. The attacks would last for hours & there seemed to be no way of calming her down.

I was reluctant to medicate her as this was just masking the problem rather than dealing with it & so I began to look for an alternative, natural & ethical solution. This is where I found Ethical Pets & their Mucky Pup Calming and Soothing Massage Oil. It took a few nights to totally kick in but I could see almost immediately that she was starting to relax. By the third night she had begun to present herself for her doggy massage before bed! I had discussed Rosie’s problems at length with Anna who was able to suggest some new products that they had recently discovered. She kindly sent some samples off for us to try.

photo of rosie asleep on her back on the sofa
Rosie Chillaxing after her Mucky Pup massage!

In our goody bag (along with a yummy vegan doggy treat!) was a Pet Remedy Plug-in Diffuser. Pet Remedy is made with a mixture of herbs that have a natural de-stressing effect on animals that is also non-sedating. I can honestly say we haven’t had any further problems with Rosie’s anxiety: she has returned to the happy, chilled out bed slug we love dearly… & I can’t tell you the relief of getting a good nights sleep ourselves!

Love from

Debbie & Rosie x

certificate for ethical pet of the month


Zogoflex Huck – spoiling our doggies.

Having rescued two dogs from Bleakholt Animal Sancturary recently, we are having a ton of fun spoiling them! Here is when they got their first Zogoflex Huck toy – the toughest ball in town (and we all love to have a ball!) I recon a being a doggy in a petshop must be prettey awesome!!

Love to all


Cuthbert & i

Hillside Animal Sanctuary was founded in 1995 to help and campaign for animals in need’ and most importantly, to bring public awareness to the millions of animals suffering every day in the intensive factory farming industry. Although Hillside has given sanctuary to over 500 horses, ponies and donkeys, most of their residents have been rescued from the farming industry. Please make a donation, if you can, to this wonderful home for animals