Warner Robins parents kill rabid fox that attacked 5-year-old

bpurser@macon.comOctober 12, 2012 

WARNER ROBINS -- Amanda and Kevin Lovett fought and killed a fox with a piece of lumber Thursday after the mother found it biting their 5-year-old daughter.

Amanda Lovett also was bitten.

On Friday, the fox tested positive for rabies, said Christine Buffington, an environmental health county manager for the Houston County Health Department.

The attack was reported to Warner Robins Animal Control shortly before 5:30 p.m., about two hours after another woman, Pat Douglas, who lives on Ridgestone Drive, reported being bitten on the leg by a fox, police said.

Amanda Lovett was inside the home she and her husband are building on Tranquill Pointe, putting their baby down for nap. Their 5-year-old daughter, Eliza, and 3-year-old daughter, Charlotte, were playing outside near what will become the garage.

Suddenly, she heard screams. She ran outside to see some sort of animal on her oldest daughter’s back. Thinking it was a small dog, she yanked it off. That’s when she realized it was a fox. When it then charged, her husband hit it in the back with a hammer.

It came at them again, with Amanda Lovett grabbing a 2-by-4 and striking the fox. It got up again and crawled toward them. She picked up her 3-year-old and ran for the van.

“Then my husband got a 2-by-4 and finished him off,” she said.

In the Ridgestone Drive incident, Douglas, 61, saw the fox outside her fenced-in yard digging. It disappeared and then moments later it was on her porch attacking her, a police report stated.

With a neighbor’s child on the porch with her, she grabbed the fox so the child could get to safety. Another neighbor heard her screams for help and saw her holding the fox. The women confined the animal under a blue storage container weighted down with bricks. But the fox escaped and ran into the woods before police arrived.

The homes are about a half-mile apart. The Lovetts plan to clear some of the wooded area and put up a privacy fence.

“She’s taking it like a trooper,” Amanda Lovett said when asked about how her 5-year-old was doing after the attack. “She’s named him ‘Bitey.’ ’’

Officers believe the same fox was involved in both cases because the homes are in the same area. Animal traps have been put out as a precaution, said Tabitha Pugh, public information officer for police.

Injuries suffered were small puncture wounds and scratches.

The three who were hurt got preventative shots at local hospitals. Warner Robins Animal Control Director Greg Langston said the first rounds of shots were given Thursday as precautionary treatment in case the fox was rabid. Amanda Lovett said she and her daughter are expected take the entire battery series of shots now that the test results are in.

Jennifer Jones, public information officer for the North Central Health District, said there’s no way to know for sure whether the same fox was involved in both attacks.

So far this year, there have been five incidents of confirmed rabid animals in Houston County, including Thursday’s fox.

In April, a rabid fox attacked a rabies-vaccinated dog, which was quarantined for 10 days and found not to have rabies, Buffington said.

In May, a rabid raccoon attacked three dogs. The one dog that had been vaccinated was quarantined and found to be healthy. The two dogs that were not vaccinated were put down. The quarantine for a non-vaccinated domestic dog is six months.

In June, a rabid fox attacked a Houston County man who underwent the shot series.

In July, a feral kitten also was found to have rabies, and the three people who came into contact with it also had the shot series.

Wild animals suspected of having rabies are put down and the heads sent off for testing, Buffington said. Domesticated animals may be quarantined and observed for signs of rabies. They also may be put down if unowned or with the owner’s permission, she said.

The shot series always is recommended as a precaution when the animal cannot be located, she said.

To contact writer Becky Purser, call 256-9559.

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