LISBON — Being in his kitchen, James Ross grabbed what was handy – a meat cleaver – to dispatch what appeared to be a rabid fox last month.

The 82-year-old Lisbon man said seeing wildlife on his River Road property is common, but this was one encounter he didn’t expect when he left his doors open on a warm morning June 25.

“He came in the kitchen and gave a leap. I knew right away he didn’t want to be my friend,” said Ross, who had heard the reports about rabid fox attacks in Brunswick.

Ross was washing dishes when he noticed the fox. At first, he thought it was a neighbor’s dog that had come in through the back door, but then the fox had Ross by the pant leg and he had to step on it with his other leg to hold it down.

“I held his neck down with my foot. I couldn’t get off,” he said. “I didn’t know what I was going to do.”

Unable to move, Ross searched the closest drawer in his kitchen and found the meat cleaver that he used to kill the fox. Ross recalled the scene Tuesday and pulled out the cleaver he used.


Ross said it was the first time he’s ever encountered a rabid animal. He loves animals, but knew from reports in Brunswick he would have to make a tough decision once the fox lunged. Ross compared his story with that of 95-year-old Robert Galen of Brunswick, who clubbed a fox to death with a piece of wood last month.

“He was 95, I’m 82,” Ross said. “I’m glad to see some older chaps around to take care of us young folks.”

According to Lisbon Police, officers responded about two hours after the incident as Ross was unharmed and didn’t call right away. Ross was wearing jeans with boots above his ankle that day, and escaped without a bite or scratch.

“I was told that we notified the CDC, but because there was no injury, (the fox) wasn’t tested,” Police Chief Marc Hagan said. “I guess the test is pretty expensive.”

Hagan said the fox is believed to be rabid by the town’s animal control officer because of the behavior it displayed in the attack. Lisbon had two other reported incidents this year, but both are believed to have involved the same fox. Two dogs were attacked by a fox on March 3, the same day a Summer Street resident complained of a fox attacking his truck, biting at the tires. Hagan said an officer eventually shot the fox and tests revealed rabies.

Hagan said a third confirmed incident in Lisbon occurred 10 months ago, and that three overall cases in that span isn’t an alarming number. He said given the news coming out of Brunswick, Ross did the right thing with the aggressive fox.


“It did lunge at him and got his pant leg,” Hagan said. “Luckily for him, he was able to dispatch of it quickly.”

Ross took a philosophical view of the incident.

“He was sick, he didn’t mean to do any harm,” Ross said. “I feel bad for the animal. I guess you can look at it as it had to be put out of its misery.”

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