WESTFIELD, NJ — A Fourth Ward resident is concerned after an aggressive fox, or foxes, twice went after her terrier. The dog escaped uninjured each time.
Nicole Boretz, a resident of Summit Court, said Thursday that foxes have long lingered near her property, but on the evening of June 12 one came after her dog, Macey.
“When she ran to the fence to do her business, the fox was there and attacked her through the fence,” said Boretz, 25. “I was outside and ran screaming at the fox, and it ran away.”
Macey walked away from the incident frightened but not physically harmed, Boretz said. Then, the fox returned the next day.
“The second attack happened Saturday morning at 8 a.m. in broad daylight,” she said. “The fox jumped our fence as soon as we let our dog into the backyard and started chasing my dog around. Luckily, my mom was at the door and chased the fox away.”
In Westfield, calls for animal control are routed through the regional health department.
Megan Avallone, director of the health department, said the behavior reported in this incident is common.
“We received a single report of a fox that had chased a small dog,” Avallone said. “While this can be scary, it is not unusual behavior for a fox. We always recommend that small dogs be supervised while outdoors.”
She said that municipal animal control does not remove foxes unless the animals are sick or injured.
The Westfield Regional Health Department on its website says that just seeing a fox or possibly a coyote is not alone a cause for concern.
“Over the past few years these animal populations have grown and can be found throughout NJ,” the health department advises. “It is important to remember that both fox and coyote have adapted to live quite well in the suburbs and even alongside humans.”
The health department offers the following tips for keeping foxes away from your property.
- Do not feed wild animals.
- Ensure all trash is placed in a receptacle with a tight-fitting lid.
- Do not leave food for pets outdoors.
- Ensure all bird feeders are maintained and tidy. (You may even consider using a block suet.)
- Ensure your yard is clean with trimmed hedges and cut grass.
- Install a motion sensor light in your yard.
A suburban locale, Westfield is no stranger to foxes.
In February, police in neighboring Cranford took three reports of a fox, or foxes, attacking dogs on Orchard Street and Cornell Roads and warned the public with a Nixle alert.
In July 2019, what appeared to be a mangy fox was seen sauntering up to a doorbell camera on Boulevard in Westfield. Mange is a disease that causes hair loss and can be transmitted to pets in certain cases.
In 2018, residents sought to treat a local fox that had also been sickened with mange. One woman even purchased medication for the animal.
When foxes attack
While Westfield has no recent reports of foxes attacking people, other parts of the state have made headlines when foxes attack.
In November 2019, authorities in Glen Ridge confirmed rabies after a fox bit three people, who were transported to a hospital, news reports said.
In 2018, NJ.com reported that a woman in South Jersey strangled a fox as it dug its teeth into her leg.
In 2017, also in Glen Ridge, a red fox bit a grandmother who attempted to a shoo away the animal reported to have been acting aggressively toward children, NorthJersey.com reported.
As for the fox, or foxes, in Westfield, Boretz remains concerned.
“All my neighbors have seen the fox,” she said. “My next-door neighbors think it lives under their porch, which is scary because they have three very young children.”
Email Matt Kadosh at firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter: @MattKadosh
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