Another rabid fox? Reported descriptions don’t match

Police say test on this fox, captured March 14, did not indicate any signs of rabies.
Photos by Michelle Walker (via NBC29) Police say test on this fox, captured March 14, did not indicate any signs of rabies. Photos by Michelle Walker (via NBC29)

An aggressive and potentially rabid fox attacking residents in North Downtown has worried people for the past week. Police say a fox acting suspiciously on March 14 was captured and put down, but did not appear to be the same fox originally reported.

“We just want our neighborhood to be safe,” says Sarah Peaslee, who lives on First Street NW, across from one of the two victims who police say was bitten by the first aggressive fox.

The victim was carrying groceries from her car around 6pm March 7 when a fox approached her and bit her leg several times, according to police.

“She yelled and screamed and couldn’t get the fox off her,” Peaslee says. Eventually, a neighbor walking his dog passed by and the dog scared the fox away. The victim was taken to UVA and treated with rabies shots. Peaslee says her neighbor was finally feeling well enough to go back to work March 14.

While police are still searching for the original fox, neighbors speculate that it has died and at least one has reported seeing a fox enter a storm drain near Grove Street. Some are worried that other animals could be feeding on its body and spreading disease, according to Peaslee.

Animal control officer Casey Breeden says she can’t know if the original fox was rabid without testing, but, in her experience, small rabid animals only live about two or three days.

“He just kind of stared at me for a while and then he would fall over,” Breeden says about the behavior of the original fox. “I went down to pick something up and he charged right at me.”

The fox evaded capture, according to police. The second fox’s remains have been taken to the health department for testing.