CATAWBA COUNTY, N.C. — Catawba County Animal Control told Channel 9 that a fox which bit a 3-year-old boy south of Newton last week has tested positive for rabies.
Finley Pope is recovering at home and still has several more shots to take.
Relatives said things would have been much worse had it not been of the quick action of his grandparents.
"People in the area really need to know and be on the lookout," grandmother Tina Pope said.
She said the attack by a fox last Friday came out of nowhere.
Her grandchildren, Finley, 3, Isabella, 4, went to their other grandparents' home for a picnic near Maiden.
"You know, 3 o'clock in the afternoon, you don't see animals like that," the grandmother said.
The grandmother heard children scream and were only a few yards away and they saw the fox first.
"She said, 'I run,' but she said, 'Finley fell down,'" Pope said.
The fox went to Finley lying on the ground.
"He said, 'That fox bit me on both of my feet,'" Pope said.
The fox kept attacking until has grandmother stepped in.
She kicked the fox off of him and it started towards her and she kicked it again and the grandfather grabbed his pistol, shot and killed the fox.
"The grandmother, her instincts, probably helped save a lot of damage to the little boy and we are just thankful," Pope said of the boy's other grandmother. "We know the Lord had to be looking out for him."
The fox tested positive for rabies and doctors began treatment on Finley immediately.
This is the first confirmed rabies case in Catawba County this year.
The county had seven all of last year.
Catawba County Animal Services offered the following suggestions to reduce potential exposure to rabies:
- Avoid direct contact with wildlife, dead or alive. Never touch any wildlife with your bare hands. If you find a sick or injured wild animal, call your local animal control agency and let the experts handle it.
- Avoid animals displaying unnatural behavior. Wild animals that are unusually friendly or displaying other unnatural behaviors may have the rabies virus.
- Discourage contact between pets and wildlife. Don't let your pets roam or encourage them to interact with unfamiliar domestic or wild animals.
- Don't keep wild animals as pets. Americans keep more than 4.7 million exotic animals, which cannot be vaccinated against rabies, as pets.
- Feed your pets indoors. Leaving food outside often attracts stray dogs, cats and wildlife to your yard.
- Animal-proof your trash. Make sure your trash lids are locked, and don't leave bags of garbage outside the cans.
- Prevent wild animals from getting into the house. Prune tree branches that overhang the roof. Keep screens on windows and cover small openings, such as chimneys, furnace ducts and eaves.
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