A Meredith, New Hampshire police officer shot and killed a rabid fox after it attacked a 4-year-old boy Saturday.
The boy, whose name has not been released, was playing outside the Redgate Village Apartments with other children at around 1:30 p.m. when the fox attacked him.
The boy's parents took him to Lakes Regional General Hospital for treatment of injuries to his arms and one leg, Meredith police Sgt. Phil McLaughlin said.
“It was a pretty scary thing for the parents and the child,” McLaughlin said.
Someone called police after spotting the fox acting "aggressively," McLaughlin said.
Joe Canfield, a conservation officer with the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department also responded to the scene and said the fox was likely rabid due to its off behavior.
"This particular species, the gray fox, usually becomes aggressive when they have rabies," said Canfield.
Canfield said the gray fox usually shies away from humans, and when they begin acting strangely it usually means they'll test positive for rabies.
After attacking the boy, the fox ran into the woods, prompting a four-hour-long search.
At around 9:30 p.m. that same day, the fox was spotted near Water Street where a man told Officer Will Goulet that it had been hiding under his car and had tried to bite his leg. The man was not injured.
Officers McLaughlin and Goulet pursued the fox into the woods, where it tried attacking Goulet. He was then able to sidestep the animal, shooting and killing it.
“It was all very quick,” McLaughlin said. “We’re lucky that he was able to see it and wasn’t injured.”
Officers bagged the carcass and took it to the station, where Canfield picked it up Sunday morning for rabies testing.
Because the fox tested positive, both the child and the man are currently being treated for rabies.
Canfield described the gray fox as being the size of a small dog and weighing about 10 pounds.
“Although it’s not very common we seen them attack in New Hampshire, it does happen,” Canfield said.
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