SANTA YSABEL, Calif. — Last October when an East County couple opened a fox rescue, they had no idea a pandemic was on its way. In this Zevely Zone, I went to Santa Ysabel near Lake Henshaw where foxes are doing their best to steal a few headlines and hearts of their own.
As I walked into the first enclosure these words came out of my mouth, "Wow! They are adorable."
Take everything you thought you knew about foxes and start over. I'm not sure if the founders Amy and Dave Bassett bought this property to cuddle or conserve.
Probably a fun, furry mixture of both, "I love foxes, I love animals," said Amy.
Her husband Dave Bassett's mother Judith was a lifelong animal advocate. When she died the Judith A. Bassett Canid Education and Conservation Center was opened in her honor.
"My love of animals came from her," said Dave.
When Red Foxes from Russia needed a home Amy and Dave stepped in, just like they did in July when they heard 30 foxes at a fur farm in Minnesota needed help.
"Now days it's about showing the neighbors you have more money when you are wearing fur and these animals are suffering on account of that and they live horrible lives and they die heinous deaths," said Dave.
But not here, this is where visitors interact with the animals and pay for pictures that lead to public awareness and donations.
"We have to find a way to save them and to make other people understand the needs that they have. I feel like it's our duty," said Amy.
The Judith A. Bassett Canid Education and Conservation Center strives to Promote Animal Conservation through Education, Animal Assisted Therapy Programs, and Compassionate Research.
They accomplish this through educational seminars, meet and greet animal encounters, conducting research to be published in peer reviewed journals. They partner with other organizations, universities, individuals, foundations, and corporations that can improve the lives of animals.
Judith would be proud. Her son Dave was feeding the foxes and told us about their mischievous personalities.
"We often like to say if this non-profit thing doesn't work out, we'll become grifters and go to trade shows and teach them to steal wallets and stuff," said Dave.
While one fox Victor was distracting me, the shy one Maksa was trying to steal our microphone.
"So, when she saw this expensive equipment so was like how am I going to get that," said Dave. So, if you visit, hold your iPhones and wallets tight. Despite their adorable faces, I think these foxes were just cunning enough to convince two of the nicest people you've ever met to build them a rescue, save their lives, and spoil them rotten.
If you'd like to meet a Red fox or help rescue one with a donation click here.