Rabid fox attacks woman

June 15, 2013

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One minute Judy Myers was walking around outside her home in the Bentwater subdivision, and the next she was “eyeball to eyeball” with a rabid fox that she believes was trying to kill her.

The gray fox first used its sharp teeth to rip a 2-inch-long wound, just above the ankle on her right leg, then approached her head-on for a second strike.

“He was determined to attack me,” Myers said. “I saw something lunge at me from the right side. After he ripped my leg, he lunges up in the air and we’re eyeball to eyeball.”

As Myers instinctively put up her hands to defend herself, she was able to get her thumbs in between the top and bottom jaws of the fox – which she estimated weighed as much as 75 pounds.

“I was just in the process of keeping him at bay,” Myers said. “His jaws were open. I stuck my thumbs in the back of his jaw and held it off.

“He was out to kill – I have no doubt whatsoever. I don’t have any doubt he was going for my throat or my face.”

She was able to keep the fox from inflicting any serious bites to her upper body, keeping her thumbs pressed into the back of the fox’s rows of teeth. Her husband, Alan, smacked the animal several times in the spine area with the blade of a small shovel, disabling it. Then he retreived a larger shovel from the garage and killed it.

“My right thumb was jammed pretty bad,” Myers said. “All the bites (other than the leg) have healed.”

She and Alan both took the rabies shots, and are scheduled to have their final one this Tuesday. Alan decided to play it safe because he picked up the animal and put it in a cage, awaiting arrival of an Animal Control officer.

In addition to her husband being handy with the shovel, Myers, 69, said she believes God protected her from more serious harm, and that an older person or a child may not have survived.

“I think God was giving me extra strength. Without that, there’s no doubt in my mind I would not have survived,” Myers said.

That was on the evening of June 4. The animal was sent away by Animal Control for testing, and on June 7 Myers learned in a phone call from the Texas Department of State Health Services in Arlington that the fox was rabid.

“Because of the quick thinking of the (Lake Granbury Medical Center) ER, I had already begun the injections,” Myers added.

At John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth, she received rabies vaccine injections in each of her bite wounds – in her leg wound, both thumbs and her right hand.

Myers said neighbors of theirs on Bentwater Parkway told her the fox tried to attack them a short time before it showed up at their home, at about 8:30 p.m. At that neighbor’s residence, the fox went after a boy playing on a trampoline. His father later emailed Myers that he had “hit” the fox three or four times before it ran away.

She said the man decided to have the rabies injections “because it’s 100 percent fatal,” Myers said. “You just can’t take chances.”

MAD RABIES

Dr. Kathleen Wallace, a veterinarian at The Pet Hospital of Granbury, said there are two types of the disease in animals – mad rabies and dumb rabies.

“With dumb rabies, the animal is just sick and never develops the aggressive behavior,” Wallace said.

As for the mad rabies variety, Wallace said that the animals “are driven to bite because of what the virus does to the brain.”

Wallace added that it’s fortunate that humans bitten by a rabid animal have enough time to get treatment because, “It takes a long time to travel through the nervous system to the brain.”

NOT THE LONE RANGER

Lieutenant Lynn McDonald of the Hood County Sheriff’s Office said on Wednesday that two other Hood County animals tested positive for rabies within a span of five days. One was a kitten in a Tolar-area residence, and the other was a skunk just outside the Granbury city limits. Apparently no one was bitten by either of those animals, although several people had been around the kitten.

“We advised them to talk to their doctors,” McDonald said, noting that this is the time of year rabies tends to be more prominent. “More of the wild animals get connected with our domesticated animals.”

He said to use caution around any wild animal, particularly if it fails to show any fear or displays other odd symptoms. McDonald said if you spot an animal you think may have rabies, call 817-573-4277. After regular business hours, call the non-emergency number for the Sheriff’s Office (817-573-3307) to notify a dispatcher, or dial 911.

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