PHIPPSBURG — A grey fox, suspected to be rabid, bit at two children in their West Point Road backyard Thursday morning before it was shot but the children’s grandfather.

Gregory, 6, and Gary Wallace, 2, were jumping on their trampoline while waiting for the bus when a fox strolled into their backyard.

“I was in the kitchen and my children had gone outside with my father-in-law when he came in and said there’s a fox running around,” said Melissa Wallace, Gregory and Gary’s mother. “The fox was biting dog toys in the yard and attacked a buoy we have hanging from a swing set. Then he ran under the trampoline and started nipping at the boys standing on the trampoline.”

While her children stood terrified on the trampoline, Wallace said, her father-in-law, Gary Wallace, 70, ran to his house next door to get his shotgun while she stood, frozen, on her back porch.

“My mind was racing,” said Melissa Wallace. “It was very scary, especially when my boys weren’t within arm’s reach. I grabbed a lacrosse stick and headed down toward the fox but then my father-in-law came out with his shotgun.”

Gary Wallace shot the fox when it stepped out from under the trampoline, leaving its brain intact so it can be tested for rabies.

Rabies is transmitted primarily through bites and exposure to saliva or spinal fluid from an infected animal. It infects the nervous system of mammals, making the infected animal unusually aggressive. Vaccines are 100% effective in combating the disease in humans but rabies is fatal if left untreated.

According to Norman Turner, Phippsburg animal control officer, the fox had porcupine quills in its mouth, a common indication the animal was rabid.

“It was definitely sick,” said Turner. “No fox in its right mind will go after a porcupine. The only animal that can take down a porcupine is a fisher, but a fox won’t even think about it.”

Phippsburg Police Chief John Skroski said a family dog fought with a fox, suspected to be the same one, earlier on Thursday morning before the fox was scared off.

“We don’t know for certain, but it most likely was the same fox,” he said.

Skroski said the dog didn’t appear to be injured after the tussle in its Water Cove Road backyard, but it was taken to the vet to receive a rabies booster shot.

Turner said this is the first sick animal he has dealt with this year, but he has noticed a steep decline in animal calls since the COVID-19 pandemic hit Maine in March 2020.

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