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An angry fox with a taste for human flesh is at large near a park popular with children.

Arlington officials say the fox bit two people — unprovoked — near Lacey Woods Park (1200 N. George Mason Drive) earlier this week and may be rabid. They’re warning residents to steer clear of any fox that “appears sick, lethargic, disoriented, or aggressive.”

Anyone who sees a fox fitting that description is asked to “call Animal Control immediately at 703-931-9241.”

The fox is not the only critter menacing the denizens of Arlington’s northern neighborhoods. There have been multiple reports of sick and potentially rabid raccoons over the past few months.

More on the latest incident, from an Arlington County press release, below.

A fox exhibiting signs of rabies has been reported near Lacey Woods Park.

Monday, May 10, between the hours of 3 p.m. and 5:30 p.m., Arlington County Animal Control and the Arlington County Police Department received complaints about a fox aggressively approaching people and dogs around the 1100 block of N. George Mason Drive, the 900 block of N. Frederick Street, and on the Custis Trail between N. George Mason Drive and N. Harrison Street. The incidents are believed to involve the same fox.

The fox had potential contact with two domestic pets and bit two humans unprovoked causing injury. The fox was exhibiting signs and symptoms consistent with rabies. The suspect aggressive fox has not been located or captured.

Rabies is a disease that people and animals can catch from the bite or scratch of infected animals. It is fatal if medical care is not given promptly.

Arlington County Animal Control and the Arlington County Department of Human Services are urging anyone who may have been bitten or scratched by any wild animal, including a fox, to reach out immediately. If you, your children, or your pets had any potential contact with this animal, please call Arlington County Animal Control promptly at 703-931-9241.

All residents are encouraged to:

  • Ensure pets are up to date on their rabies and distemper vaccines
  • Keep dogs on a leash at all times and keep cats inside
  • Do not approach or feed any wild animals
  • Feed pets inside
  • Remove wildlife attractants, such as unsecured garbage cans, open containers of food and compost, from yards.

Arlington County Animal Control is also urging residents to remain vigilant, and if they see a fox that appears sick, lethargic, disoriented, or aggressive to stay away from the animal and call Animal Control immediately at 703-931-9241. Do not attempt to haze or make loud sounds at the animal. Back away slowly while facing the animal at all times.

The County asks that pets and children are not outside unsupervised at this time.

If you come across a deceased rabies vector animal, including cats, dogs, foxes, raccoons, or groundhogs, in your yard or a public space, contact Animal Control promptly and do not handle the animal.

Flickr pool photo by GM and MB

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One year ago today, the coronavirus changed life over the course of one momentous day. Now, Arlington dogs may face a lockdown of their own due to a new viral outbreak.

Arlington County warned this afternoon that raccoons across North Arlington are testing positive for a virus called Canine Distempter. The disease can be transmitted to dogs and other pets — and is often fatal or debilitating.

Officials learned of the outbreak due to incidents involving sick raccoons that had rabies-like symptoms over the past few months. Of the three raccoons captured by animal control, only one ended up testing positive for rabies, according to a press release. But officials continued capturing and testing raccoons due to the concerning behavior.

More from the press release:

With ongoing issues and reports Arlington County Animal Control and the Arlington County Department of Human Services arranged for broader testing of six raccoons that were removed showing neurological signs and symptoms in early March 2021. All of the raccoons tested were clinically positive for Canine Distemper.

Distemper is a viral disease that is always present in wildlife populations at varying levels. Raccoons are especially susceptible to canine distemper, as well as foxes, coyotes, skunks, and unvaccinated dogs. This virus does not affect humans. The disease is transmitted when animals have direct contact with infected animals or indirect contact with body fluids/feces from an infected animal.

We are urging residents in North Arlington to be vigilant. This outbreak is no longer contained to a specific neighborhood.

The County is asking pet owners to ensure their pets are vaccinated against both rabies and distemper. Pets should be kept inside, or on a leash when outside, officials say.

More official advice from the County is below.

Residents are asked to:

  • Ensure pets are up to date on their rabies and distemper vaccines
  • Keep dogs on a leash at all times and keep cats inside
  • Do not approach or feed any wild animals
  • Feed pets inside
  • Remove wildlife attractants from yards, such as unsecured garbage cans, open containers of food and compost

If you see a raccoon that appears sick, lethargic, disoriented, or aggressive should stay away from the animal and call Animal Control immediately at 703-931-9241. If you come across a deceased raccoon in your yard or a public space, contact Animal Control immediately.

Photo by Jonnelle Yankovich on Unsplash

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As if the pandemic wasn’t bad enough, there’s now an apparent rabies outbreak in Arlington County.

Two days after the county warned of a possible rabies exposure in the East Falls Church neighborhood, animal control has captured two additional raccoons “showing neurological signs consistent with rabies.”

The raccoons were both captured in residential north Arlington neighborhoods: one on the 4300 block of 37th Road N., in the Old Glebe neighborhood near Glebe Road Park and the Gulf Branch Nature Center, and another on the 5100 block of 37th Road N., in the Rock Spring neighborhood near Williamsburg Middle School.

“On February 4, 2021, Arlington County Animal Control responded to two separate incidents for raccoons,” the county said in a press release. “Both of the raccoons in these incidents were captured and removed by animal control; both raccoons were showing neurological signs consistent with rabies. One of these raccoons may have had contact with two pets.”

“This outbreak is no longer contained to a specific neighborhood,” the press release warned, also citing the East Falls Church incident from Jan. 30, in which a rabid raccoon came into contact with a pet.

“We are urging residents in North Arlington to be vigilant,” said Kurt Larrick, a county spokesman. “We ask that residents ensure their pets are up to date on their rabies vaccines, keep their dogs on a leash, keep cats inside, remain vigilant and alert, and do not approach or interact with any wild animals.”

Rabies, as described in the press release, “is a disease that people and animals can catch from the bite or scratch of infected animals. It is fatal if medical care is not given promptly.”

“If you, your child, or your pet may have come into contact with any wild animals including bats or raccoons, please call Arlington County Animal Control at 703-931-9241 immediately,” the press release says. “If calling after hours, please stay on the line to speak with the answering service who will alert an Officer. If you see a raccoon that appears sick, lethargic, disoriented, or aggressive, do NOT approach the animal and please call Animal Control immediately.”

Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman

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Morning Notes

Possible Rabies Exposure in EFC — “On Saturday, January 30, a raccoon was reported in the area of the 6900 block Williamsburg Boulevard… in the East Falls Church neighborhood. This animal was showing signs of neurological symptoms and was caught and removed by Animal Control after potentially having contact with a pet. The raccoon tested clinically positive for rabies.” [Arlington County]

Rouse Property Showdown Heads to County Board — “With a unanimous vote, Arlington’s Historical Affairs and Landmark Review Board kicked the controversy over preservation of the Rouse estate on Wilson Boulevard up to the County Board. The action, taken Jan. 27 after the matter was fast-tracked through what ordinarily would have been a much more drawn-out process, puts the advisory body at odds with the owners of the 9-acre property, who want to raze the buildings and sell off the tract.” [InsideNova]

Pike McDonald’s Robbed by Irate Customer — “The suspect was in the drive thru line of a business and became irate over an issue with their order. The suspect then parked their vehicle and entered the business yelling and threatening the victim. She slapped items out of the victim’s hand, then pushed her out of the way and stole an undisclosed amount of cash from the register, threw food items on the floor, and damaged property, then fled in a vehicle prior to police arrival.” [ACPD]

Local Businessman Pleads Guilty to Fraud — “An Arlington businessman pleaded guilty today to making false statements to multiple federal agencies in order to fraudulently obtain multimillion-dollar government contracts, COVID-19 emergency relief loans, and undeserved military service benefits… Robert S. Stewart, Jr., 35, was the owner and president of Federal Government Experts LLC, an Arlington-based company that purported to provide various services to the U.S. government.” [U.S. Dept. of Justice]

Volunteers Working to Widen Mt. Vernon Trail — “Volunteers removed overgrown grass and mud from the trail between Memorial Bridge and TR Island in January widening the trail by more than a foot in some spots. Volunteers also fixed drainage of three areas where winter ice sheets were forming. We have multiple upcoming volunteer events through March to continue widening the trail.” [Friends of the Mt. Vernon Trail]

Super Bowl Safety Reminder — “Super Bowl LV is on Sunday, February 7, 2021, and it’s one of America’s favorite annual celebrations… The Arlington County Police Department is teaming up with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to remind football fans everywhere that Fans Don’t Let Fans Drive Drunk.” [ACPD]

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A potentially rabid raccoon with a taste for human flesh is on the loose in the Donaldson Run neighborhood.

The raccoon bit a person last week on the 4200 block of 25th Street N., two blocks from Taylor Elementary School, according to the Animal Welfare League of Arlington. It ran off and “has not been located.”

Two other raccoons with rabies-like symptoms have been removed from the neighborhood by animal control officers over the past month, AWLA said.

Arlington residents, particularly those in the Donaldson Run area, are being encouraged to remain vigilant.

“If you or your pet may have come into contact with any wild animals including bats or raccoons, please call Arlington County Animal Control at 703-931-9241 immediately, after hours please stay on the line to speak with the answering service who will alert an officer,” the organization said last night in a statement.

“If you see a raccoon that appears sick, lethargic, disoriented, or aggressive, do NOT approach the animal and please call Animal Control immediately: 703-931-9241.”

Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman

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Morning Notes

County Allocates More Money for Rent Relief — “The Arlington County Board today approved using an additional $1.125 million from the County’s COVID-19 contingent account to fund eviction protection through December 2020 for those affected by the pandemic. The Board’s action brings the total amount allocated for eviction prevention in Fiscal Year 2021, which began July 1, 2020, to $3.5 million.” [Arlington County]

AWLA Pushes to Extend Eviction Ban — “The Animal Welfare League of Arlington is pushing for legislators to extend Governor Northam’s original eviction deadline of September 7, to prevent animals from being surrendered by people who can’t afford them. AWLA says they’re here to help tenants during these trying times and also urge landlords to cut back on animal restrictions and limitations.” [WDVM]

I-66 Lane Closures This Weekend — “Single-lane closures on westbound I-66 just before the bridge over Lee Highway (Route 29) at Exit 72 will occur (weather permitting) between 9 p.m. Friday night, Aug. 28 and 5 a.m. Monday morning, Aug. 31 for road repairs, according to the Virginia Department of Transportation.” [VDOT]

Arlington-Based Lidl Expanding — “Discount grocery Lidl, whose North American headquarters is in Crystal City, Virginia, will open 50 new stores by the end of 2021, including 10 new locations in Maryland, and seven new stores in Virginia.” [WTOP]

Nearby: Rabies Warning in Falls Church — “The City of Falls Church Police and Animal Warden remind residents about the risks of rabid wildlife spreading rabies to pets. Police recently responded to a report of a sick raccoon in the 1200 block of Lincoln Ave. The raccoon was euthanized and later found to have rabies.  In this case, two dogs were exposed to the raccoon and are now in quarantine.” [City of Falls Church]

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(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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Morning Notes

Sietsema’s Dining Guide Includes Arlington Spots — Out of 77 restaurants on Washington Post food critic’s prestigious  annual Fall Dining Guide, four are Arlington-based or have Arlington outposts: Thai Square on Columbia Pike, Sfoglina in Rosslyn, Jaleo in Crystal City, and Buena Vida in Clarendon. [Washington Post]

Dance Flash Mob in Ballston — “Flash Mob in #Ballston! Volunteers and @BMDCdance treated @marymountu’s Ballston Center students to an impromptu performance at the Fall Wellness Fair! #LifeisFull” [Twitter]

Man Arrested for Sexual Abuse of Child on Metro — “Patel was stopped by MTPD officers shortly before 6 p.m. after a juvenile male victim reported that the suspect sat next to him and then groped him aboard a Yellow Line train traveling between Pentagon and L’Enfant Plaza stations. The train was in the District of Columbia at the time of the offense.” [WMATA]

ACPD Encouraging ‘See Something, Say Something’ — “While the overall crime rate is down regionwide, in 2019 there’s an increase in the number of people calling police in Arlington, Virginia; and the police chief thinks it is because people are becoming engaged with law enforcement. And that’s a good thing.” [WTOP]

‘Trail Rage’ Incident in Arlington — “At approximately 4:50 p.m., the victim and a friend were riding their bikes along the Custis Trail when they had a brief exchange with the suspect who was traveling by bicycle in the opposite direction. The suspect later caught up to the victim on the trail, became aggressive and struck the victim’s bike with his tire, before the victim was able to ride away. The suspect again caught up to the victim, attempted to grab his personal belongings, before the victim kicked the suspects’ bicycle and rode away.” [Arlington County]

Lee Highway Planning Meeting Today — “From 12-3:30pm: Lee Highway-area residents, business owners, community members and other stakeholders are encouraged to attend the Plan Lee Highway: Open Design Studio.” [Twitter, Arlington County]

Nearby: Rabid Raccoon in Falls Church — “On October 4, a sick raccoon was euthanized by City of Falls Church Police in the area of Lea Court and S. Spring Street. On October 9, the Fairfax County Health Department confirmed that the raccoon was suffering from rabies. In this case, there was no human exposure to the animal, however, the community should be cognizant of the rabies threat at all times.” [City of Falls Church]

Flickr pool photo by Lisa Novak

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