Some facts about rabies and what to do if you are bitten by an animal suspected of having rabies.
PARSIPPANY, N.J. – A New Jersey woman is recovering after twice being bitten by a rabid fox that also attacked her daughter, who tossed an ax at the fox before whacking it senseless with a shovel.
The Blairstown, New Jersey, woman went outside Saturday morning to feed her cats in a barn on her farm property when she encountered a gray fox that had already killed one cat, Blairstown Animal Control Officer Scott Hendricks said.
“Then the fox started coming towards her,” Hendricks said. “She had cat chow that she threw at it to try and deter it, but the fox was unfazed and continued to go after her. It bit her twice on the leg as she tried to get back in the house.”
When her adult daughter went outside to find out what was going on, she mistook the fox, which had moved under the front porch, for one of the cats.
“The fox came out after her,” Hendricks said. “She had an ax, which she threw at it and missed. The fox went after the ax, then turned back at her.”
By that time, the woman had grabbed a shovel.
“As the fox got close, she went and clubbed it in the head with the shovel, fazed it, kind-of knocked it out,” he said.
At that point, the woman’s shouts for help were heard by two men driving by in a truck.
“They stopped, the one guy got out, took the shovel and held the fox down until it was deceased,” Hendricks said. “He actually suffocated it.”
State police from the Hope barracks and local EMTs also responded to the scene in one of the most rural areas of North Jersey.
The woman was taken to the hospital for treatment.
She began a four-shot treatment for rabies after state authorities confirmed Tuesday that the animal was rabid.
“When I got there, the daughter was very, very upset,” Hendricks said. “I can understand it. I’ve been around wildlife a bit, and when you have a fox coming after you, it can make you pretty nervous.”
Because the incident took place Saturday, when state offices were closed, Hendricks refrigerated the animal until he could take it to Trenton, New Jersey’s capital, for examination Monday.
“If a person gets bit by a suspect animal, they have five days before they need to begin treatment,” Hendricks said. “We were right up against that five-day buffer.”
“Please be aware when you are outside,” Blairstown police advised in their Facebook post about the incident.
Follow William Westhoven on Twitter: @wwesthoven
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