Raines apologizes, pledges to remain in compliance
Mikayla Raines will keep her permit for three foxes after apologizing at the May 15 Lakeville City Council meeting for violating its terms by keeping more animals than it allowed.
She said she is now in compliance and will remain so, agreeing to unannounced inspections to ensure she keeps three or fewer foxes at her Lakeville home, as stipulated in the permit granted her by the city last April.
Lakeville City Council members unanimously agreed not to revoke the permit, opposing the Planning Commission’s unanimous but reluctant recommendation after a May 5 hearing that packed the chambers with many of Raines’ passionate supporters.
Raines said she plans to stay in compliance to prove her commitment to the three-fox limit for a long period of time, then hopes to return and offer education about foxes to the city officials in hopes of one day opening a rescue facility.
Raines has also received significant support from people on social media, who sent hundreds of emails in support of her efforts to City Council and Planning Commission members.
Council members agreed to let her have another chance to comply, but repeatedly and firmly warned she must never have more than three foxes on the property.
“If there is not compliance, my hand will be the first one up to revoke the permit,” said City Council Member Bart Davis, a former Planning Commission member.
Council Member Colleen LaBeau said this is Raines’ third chance, noting they initially granted her the permit against the recommendation of the Planning Commission and city staff.
She said she received more letters on this topic than in all seven years she has served on the council combined, and while that support boosted her confidence in Raines’ commitment to the animals, she firmly warned her against going out of compliance with the permit again.
LaBeau said when Raines started rescuing baby foxes, rehabilitating them and finding them safe places, she should have come to the council and explained the situation, then worked with the officials to address the situation.
“We are admiring your passion, we are admiring what you’re trying to do, … but for me it’s more about how do we get Mikayla to understand we’re under guidelines that we need to follow or we’d have the whole community doing whatever they want,” LaBeau said.
Mayor Doug Anderson also encouraged Raines to work within the network of people and organizations that rescue foxes.
Several council members expressed interest in learning more about foxes and held up the Lakeville-area middle-school students and their parents as examples of how to work within the system.
The students spent months educating elected and appointed city leaders about bees, and at the same meeting, the council voted to change city ordinances to allow backyard beehives.
Council Member Brian Wheeler said there are people who are opposed to her operation and warned her to remain in compliance because they are going to be looking for violations.
LaBeau agreed, and said some people are watching her very closely and making phone calls.
“They don’t see it the same way as many of your supporters,” LaBeau said. “And, you can’t gain 100 percent support in life. That’s just very difficult to do for anyone.”
City Planner Darryl Morey said if Raines violates the permit again, the City Council could revoke it and if the foxes were not removed from the property, Raines would be charged with a misdemeanor.
Anderson said much of their decision allowing her permit to remain intact is based on Raines’ character.
“I am encouraged by how you’ve thought this thing through,” Anderson said. “You’ve obviously had a lot of conversations with a number of people, but we cannot as a council just continue to approve interim use permits as people go ahead and do things just because it’s a nice thing. Because ultimately, if we just did that, we’d have chaos.”