CABARRUS COUNTY, N.C. — A Cabarrus County woman was hospitalized Wednesday morning after she was viciously attacked by a fox while walking her dogs.
The attack happened outside Lorie Horton's home on Highway 601 in Concord.
Officials said Horton let her dogs out around 7 a.m. when a gray fox attacked and that's when she grabbed a two-by-four to fight off the animal.
>> Lorie Horton shared the harrowing tale of surviving a rabid fox attack. WATCH Eyewtiness News at 5 as anchor Paul Boyd talks with her about how she defended her dogs and fought the animal off with a two-by-four.
As she was defending her dogs, deputies said the fox bit the woman on her calf.
"You get in the middle of it a lot of times, the dog retaliates and I think that’s what happened with the fox. It bit her on the leg," said Lt. James Torelli with the Cabarrus County Sheriff's Office.
Horton said she was able to get several of her dogs back inside her house, but one, Annabelle, stood her ground and went toe-to-toe with the fox.
Officials said Horton was able to call 911 and when deputies arrived, the fox tried to attack them.
Deputies shot and killed the animal and brought it in to be tested for rabies. On Thursday, Eyewitness News anchor Allison Latos confirmed the tests came back positive for rabies.
"Definitely a deadly disease if left untreated. That’s why we always vaccinate our animals for the same reason," said Torelli.
The dogs were current on their rabies shots but Horton is being treated.
Neighbors said Horton was very brave.
Sarah Dry said she's lived in the area for 60 years and has never had an encounter with a fox. She summed up her reaction with a single word, "Scary."
Torelli said human interaction with a wild fox is very rare.
"Not with a human. A lot of times animal on animal contact, but very rarely do we have a human bite with a wild animal like that," Torelli said.