MAHOPAC, N.Y. - The fox that attacked a Mahopac woman last week has tested positive for rabies, according to the Putnam County Department of Health.
Merlin Padilla was attacked by a gray fox at her Agor Lane home on Saturday, Aug. 5, when she was returning home from an errand. She told ABC News that the found the fox standing on her porch, glaring at her and baring its teeth. Padilla tried to get past the animal but it attacked her, biting her and clawing her ankle, which required 15 stitches.
The fox followed her into her home where her two children were, but they managed to trap the fox inside the house and get out and then call 911 for help. The fox was captured and euthanized and sent to a state lab in Albany for testing. The test came back Tuesday, Aug. 8, with a positive result.
Padilla was treated with the shots needed to prevent the disease and is expected to be OK.
Barbara Ilardy, public information for the county health department, said officials weren’t surprised by the result because another fox from the area tested positive a week earlier after a homeowner killed it with a shovel.
Kim Salomon, who lives near Agor Lane, said there have been several incidences in the area this summer.
Salomon, who lives on neighboring Spring Brook Drive, said she and her family experienced a close call before the attack on Padilla.
“A week before, on Saturday (July 29), a fox came out from under the car and came at a friend’s daughter who was at our house visiting,” she told Mahopac News. “She screamed and ran into our house and it came after her. I’ve never seen a fox attack anyone before.”
Salomon said her husband and the visiting child’s father fought off the fox.
“They kicked it but it kept coming towards us,” she said. “Finally, they got this mat and threw it over it and were able to get it out of the house.”
Fortunately, no one was bitten.
Salomon said it was her neighbor who killed the fox with a shovel that tested positive for rabies. She said another neighbor reported an attack in which the fox ended up biting a hole in their inflatable pool and then ran off in the direction of Agor Lane.
“I thought, wow, this is crazy,” she said. “I alerted my neighbors. Where we live, we are surrounded by wood. Now, when I bring my packages in from the car, I have my son stand there with a baseball bat.”
Ilardi said residents should be cautious, especially with their pets, and urged pet owners not to leave food outside that could attract wildlife.
“Don’t invite wild animals into your yard,” she said.
Ilardi said that so far in 2017, there have been seven wild animals in Putnam County that have tested positive for rabies: the two foxes, three raccoons, one bat and a woodchuck.
In June, a Mahopac homeowner in the area of Tanager Road and Wright Road was bitten by a domesticated gray tabby cat that also tested positive for rabies. The victim said he, too, went through the series of shots to prevent the deadly disease. He also reported two woodchucks on his property a few days later that were behaving strangely—one was gnawing on the side of his tool shed. He had it trapped and it tested positive for rabies.
Ilardi said anyone who may have had physical contact with a wild animal should contact the health department at 845-808-1390.