Arlington, VA

(Updated at 2:10 p.m.) A fox that later tested positive for rabies attacked two cats in the Fairlington neighborhood, the Animal Welfare League of Arlington announced today.

AWLA says animal control officers responded Saturday to two separate incidents in Fairlington in which a fox attacked a resident’s cat. The fox was found dead the next day and tested positive for rabies this week.

“We are actively working on a multifaceted approach to reduce the risk to the public and prevent future incidents,” AWLA said in a press release, below. “It is important that the community stay alert at this time. Animal Control requests that any fox sightings in the common areas of this community or encroaching on the property in any way be reported immediately.”

On a neighborhood Facebook page, the owner of one of the cats described the attack, which came without warning.

“We were grilling ribs on the patio and the fox jumped the fence and came onto our patio with us standing there. I’ve never seen anything like it. He attacked the cat right in front of us,” said Kay Houghton, a local real estate agent. “When my fiancée tried to break up the fight, the fox started growling and lunging at him. He found a wooden board in the bushes and used it to beat back the fox. This is absolutely not normal fox behavior.”

The cat was “severely injured” and had to be resuscitated by Houghton’s sister, according to the Facebook post. The cat later came to at a local animal hospital but needs additional treatment for potentially debilitating injuries. Houghton’s sister, meanwhile, is receiving rabies shots for the possible exposure.

The second cat was “viciously ambushed,” suffered a badly injured leg and also requires expensive veterinary care, potentially including an amputation, according to a fundraising page established to raise $5,500 for the treatments.

“Luckily, one of the neighbors was able to scare the fox away after several persistent attempts, in cooperation with a bystander’s dog barking that caused the fox to retreat,” the page recounts. Alexandra, the cat, “will come out of this situation stronger than how she came in, and we hope that our outpouring love and the support of others will relieve her anguish caused by this unfortunate event.”

The full AWLA press release is below.

Two separate incidents occurred on Saturday April 25th in the Fairlington Community of Arlington, VA in which a fox attacked and injured two domestic cats.

Animal Control responded to the 2800 block of S. Columbus St. in Arlington County on Saturday April 25th in the afternoon in response to a call about a fox attacking a domestic cat. Shortly thereafter, another call came in regarding an additional cat being attacked by a fox in close vicinity. Animal Control officers were unable to locate the suspect fox at that time.

On Sunday April 26th, Animal Control responded in the morning and retrieved a deceased fox in the 4800 block of 27th Road S. in Arlington County. This fox was sent for testing and confirmed to be positive for rabies.

We are actively working on a multifaceted approach to reduce the risk to the public and prevent future incidents. It is important that the community stay alert at this time.

Animal Control requests that any fox sightings in the common areas of this community or encroaching on the property in any way be reported immediately. Foxes are known to carry rabies, so any interaction with them (person or pet) should be reported immediately to Animal Control. Animal Control is reachable directly 24/7-365 days a year at 703-931-9241.

Dogs, cats, and other domestic pets should be kept inside or on leash at all times. Children should be supervised at all times when outside. Do not feed or approach any wild, stray, or feral animals, even if they appear friendly or injured. Please make sure your dogs and cats are up-to-date on their rabies vaccinations.

If you believe you or a member of your family may have had contact with any wild animal, including a fox, please contact the Arlington County Department of Human Services, Nurse of the Day at 703-228-5200, option 1.

Flickr pool photo by GM and MB

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