An 87-year-old former Bath fire chief is warning his neighbors to be careful after a fox attacked him in his yard Friday.

Norman Kenney managed to kill the young animal and it is being tested for rabies.

As of Aug. 14, Bath Police had seen seven animals that tested positive for rabies this year, up from two last year and none in 2017. Police could not be reached for comment over the weekend.

Norman Kennedy

Kenney was behind his house on Getchell Street in south Bath around noon when he saw what he initially thought was a cat heading toward him.

Realizing that it was actually a fox, he stood still, initially thinking the animal would go away, but the fox ran at him and grabbed his pant leg, he said Saturday.

“It was shaking and shaking the thing,” he said.

He kicked at the fox, but it kept lunging at him. At one point he “got dizzy and fell down” but managed to get back up before the fox came after him again.

“I kicked it two or three times, and thought, ‘I’ve gotta kill this thing somehow,’ but I didn’t have a stick or anything on me,” he said.

Kenney has had two knee replacements and owns a cane, but he did not have it with him at the time, said his granddaughter Rashell Thompson.

Eventually, Kenney put his foot on top of the fox and put his weight on its neck to kill it.

He called his grandson-in-law, Tristan Koehling, who called police. The fox, which Kenney said appeared quite young, was sent to Augusta to be tested for rabies. Results are expected back sometime next week.

“It wasn’t frothing at the mouth, there was no (physical) indication that it was rabid,” he said, “but its actions seemed like that.”

Rabies is a viral disease that infects the nervous system of mammals. It is transmitted primarily through bites and exposure to saliva or spinal fluid from an infected animal. The disease, which is ultimately fatal, attacks the nervous system, making the infected animal unusually aggressive.

Kenney said doctors did not find any puncture marks on his legs where the fox latched on, something he chalks up to the fox’s small mouth and the quality of his denim jeans.

Thompson said she was “shocked” by what happened. She said she was impressed with her grandfather’s composure, and said she probably would have been screaming for help.

“I talked to him this morning and he said he kind of just did what he had to,” she said. “He tried to just kick it away at first. … It was just a pup and he didn’t want to hurt it, but he didn’t have a choice.”

Earlier this summer, a rabid fox attacked a 6-year-old girl on Bumpy Hill Road in Bath.

Julia Davis of Bath was playing outside at a friend’s house when the fox attacked and chased her into the home. Davis was bitten on the leg before the homeowner chased it outside, where it was killed by the homeowner’s dog.

Kenney has seen a mother fox and her two kits in his neighborhood before, and he suspects it was one of the kits who attacked him. If one fox was infected, the others may be too, he said. He is urging his neighbors to be careful when working in their gardens or walking outside.

“Walk quietly and carry a big stick,” he said.


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