Richard Whittington works for Arun Veterinary Group.
He left his home in Lockswood Avenue, Tarring, to walk his french bulldog Rupert on Sunday morning.
But to his surprise, he discovered that a purse had been left by one of the plant pots near his front door.
The flowery pouch, which held banknotes and two credit cards, had been chewed by the zip, and was soaked in urine – leading vet Richard to conclude it had been left there by a fox.
His wife Louise thinks it must have been a festive gesture.
“It’s the fact that Richard is a vet which gets me, and that he treats foxes. It was like the fox’s way of saying thank you!”
Louise reported the purse as missing to the police, and handed it in to Worthing police station.
It was reunited with its owner on Monday – and although she kept the contents, the soggy purse was sadly discarded.
Louise said that the owner of the purse also lived in Lockswood Road, but much further down.
She believed that the purse had been dropped by the woman after leaving a taxi on Saturday night, and the fox picked it up soon after.
“It is a nice, feel-good story; honesty is the best policy,” she said. “It was a good lesson to teach our son Caspar.”
According to Louise, it was common for foxes to deposit crisp packets and other rubbish in their front garden.
But the purse beat the previous gift the couple received the night before on their doorstep: a steaming pile of fox diarrhea.
Louise said that vulpine encounters have become more frequent – and that might be because of the pets they keep in their garden.
“Foxes are just thriving in this area. They don’t bother our chickens at all because they can’t get to them.”