2005-08-04 / Front Page

Rabid fox killed; city must be aware of animal dangers

Washington city authorities are warning residents that two possibly rabid foxes were reported and put down recently, and that parents need to warn children of the dangers that wild animals can pose – even in town.

“The fox was acting very, very strange,” said Dean Mansfield about the recent encounter in her neighborhood off Pembroke Drive. “He was just walking in circles and looking right at you, biting at the air, biting at the concrete, then just laying there.”

Washington Police officers arrived within minutes and put the animal down with a shotgun.

Rabies testing on the animal had not been done at press time, but Police Chief Mike Davis said that the animal’s behavior made the diagnosis likely.

“You really should never see a fox. They’re active only at night, and they normally run from people,” he said. “If you see a fox or coyote in the daytime, and it doesn’t run, if it stares you in the eye or acts strangely, it’s sick. Just call 911 and let us handle it.”

He encourages parents to warn their children about odd animal behavior, and to remember that other wild animals like raccoons and coyotes can be affected. Coyotes have been spotted during daylight hours in the county, but there have been no reports of them in Washington.

Police put down another fox suspected of being rabid on Poplar Drive in the city recently, and other foxes and raccoons have been spotted during the daytime.

Chief Davis is concerned, too, about the interaction between rabid wild animals and domestic pets, and encourages pet owners to keep them close. “That’s one of the reasons we have a leash law in the city,” he said, “to protect our pets and the people who own them from wild animals.”

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