May 1 2018

Fox Attacks Multiple People Including Police Officer Before Being Killed

By: Rich Hosford

Update 5/3/18: 


Burlington Police report that the lab results for the fox indicate it tested positive for rabies. 

Original Story 


A red fox attacked multiple people in Burlington on Tuesday and was eventually killed when it turned on a member of the Burlington Police Department.


Burlington Animal Control Officer Gerry Mills said that at roughly 8 a.m. police were called to a Leopold Street residence on a report that a fox had attacked and bitten a woman twice, breaking the skin, and only ran off after her husband struck it several times.


Police searched the area but did not locate the animal at that time. They did, however, increase patrols in the neighborhood.


At approximately 2 p.m. a resident of a nearby street was attacked by a fox that pulled off her shoe and bit her and also broke the skin. She then notified an Patrol Officer Harry Sawyer who was on patrol in her neighborhood. That officer began searching for it in her yard.


“He was looking and heard something and when he turned to look the animal charged him,” Officer Mills said. Sawyer was forced to discharge his weapon, killing the animal. The animal never made contact with the him and the officer was not hurt in the incident.


Officer Mills said the animal’s body was delivered to the State Laboratory for testing and he expects to get the results about the presence of rabies tomorrow. He said that either way the results turn out both victims should complete the full round of the rabies vaccine. In particular, the woman from the first episode should be careful because while it is very likely it was the same animal he said they cannot be sure.


“We are very confident it is the same animal but there is no way to be 100 percent certain,” he said.


Officer Mills said this type of behavior in wild animals, even ones infected with rabies, is extremely rare.


“I’ve dealt with hundreds of rabid animals and I’ve only seen this a few times,” he said. “In 20 years I haven’t had any more than three or four animals act this aggressively.”


More often, he explained, rabid animals look like they are intoxicated. They stumble and fall down and act lethargic. Very rarely are they energetic and aggressive.


Officer Mills said that people should be vigilant but not to panic.


“We do want them to use good judgement and if they see anything concerning to call dispatch and we will see if it is a threat or danger and make appropriate action,” he said. “But we don’t want people calling every time they see an animal.”


One reason, he explained, is that during this time of year it is more common to see animals such as foxes and coyotes out during the day.


“They either just had or are carrying their babies,” he said. “They will need more protein so they will be out during the day, that’s normally. We are more concerned with the presence of animals that look sick. This time of year we will see young coyotes and fox pups out there and that is all perfectly normal.”


Image used with story is a file photo


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