A Fife vet has vehemently denied being “anti-fox” after furious protesters accused him of callously slaughtering animals.
Dressed as large furry foxes, members of the anti-hunting lobby descended on the Eden Veterinary Practice to vent their fury at Keith Talbot.
Mr Talbot was interviewed on a TV show after killing two foxes — something that has enraged protesters. It was later reported that the vet had killed “the UK’s largest fox.”
A statement issued by the organisers of Wednesday’s demonstration accused Mr Talbot of “boasting” about the kills — something he strongly denies.
“Talbot justified his actions by claiming the animal he killed was ‘twice the size of a normal fox’ and had been responsible for the death of his parents’ 19-year-old cat,” protesters said.
“Stories such as this strike fear into the public and rightly so, but are they true? Is it a coincidence that since pro-hunting Prime Minister David Cameron came to power, ‘monster’ foxes have suddenly appeared on our streets?
“Talbot’s scare story and others like it are putting a new fear of foxes into the general public. These are unbalanced stories which do not allow the public to make their own minds up.”
Protesters believe Mr Talbot was “showing off” about the deaths and insist he appeared to have been taking part in a “best story of the biggest fox” competition run by Fieldsports Channel TV.
When approached by The Courier Mr Talbot said he understood people’s anger over the issue and apologised “for the way the story has been portrayed.”
“In December my parents were disturbed by their elderly cat Amber screaming,” the vet said. “They looked out and saw a fox running away with Amber in its mouth.
“They were understandably devastated by the loss of a much loved pet and asked me to do something to protect other cats in the area.”
Mr Talbot said that, following their pleas, two foxes were caught in a cage trap and put to sleep “humanely”.
“I then took part in a media interview to highlight the plight of the cat. I did not have any control over the editing of the story and I didn’t realise how widespread the coverage would become.”
Mr Talbot said he realised protesters were “distressed” but insists he is no fox hater.
“I believe that everything in nature has its place and I am certainly not anti-fox.”
Ainslie Smith, who established the Eden Veterinary Practice, urged any clients with concerns to get in touch.
“We have worked hard to establish our practice as a trusted local veterinary service that puts the health and welfare of the animals in our care first,” he said.
“The current situation involves the private actions of one of our team. There will be clients who have concerns regarding the issues raised by this situation and I would encourage them to contact the practice to discuss these with us.
“I hope I will be able to allay any fears and reassure our clients and the local community that our patients’ welfare is always our highest priority.”
Charlie Jacoby, a director with Fieldsports Channel TV, said Mr Talbot was not aware of the “biggest fox” contest.
“Keith humanely euthanased a fox on December 26…and Fieldsports Channel ran a story detailing the plight of his parents’ cat,” Mr Jacoby said. “We also ran a competition for viewers for the ‘best story of the biggest fox’, of which Keith was unaware.
“Keith later made it clear that he was opposed to such a competition. Any claims that Keith euthanased a fox on ‘trophy’ grounds are untrue. He was controlling an individual rogue animal.”