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3-legged coyote involved in custody battle in Plant City

PLANT CITY, Fla. (WFLA) -- A custody battle over a three-legged coyote is leaving one Plant City family heartbroken. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission took the Clark family's pet coyote from them, citing a permit issue. 

The family believes the coyote, which is named Molly, is now living at the A to Z Menagerie, a rescue and rehabilitation facility in Lithia. The son, Will Clark, says Molly belonged to his mother, Karen Clark.

She cared for animals in need of a new home or a new chance at life. Will remembers the phone call that brought them to Molly.

"'Karen, we have a coyote that was attacked by dogs. They had to amputate one of her legs,'" said Will.

He met Molly about 10 years ago.

"She was in my bathroom in a little dog carrier," he recalls. "[She was] sitting there with her bandaged up back end, taking bits of kibble from my hand."

Karen cared for Molly but when she was diagnosed with cancer in 2014, she asked other people to help her. They did not do their job.

"I remember the day my father called me and I could hear [my mom] wailing in anguish over what had happened," said Will.

FWC took Molly due to neglect.

Will tells us his mother was distraught.

"She said, 'that day was worse than the day I was diagnosed with cancer.'"

Karen made adjustments and brought Molly home, only to lose her again as she lost her battle with cancer on Nov. 20 of this year.

"On her deathbed, on November 20th, my father gets a call from FWC," said Will.

Karen had the proper permit for Molly but her husband and her son do not.

FWC told them Molly cannot stay with them until they get the permit.

"This is a creature. This is flesh and blood that is happy where she is," said Will. "And now this is just another bump in an already rocky life she had that is not necessary."

The FWC investigator, who removed Molly from the Clark's property on Friday, confirms the coyote was taken due to a permitting issue. He said he could not provide us with additional comments because it is an active investigation.

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