A couple of months ago a beautiful fox appeared in our front yard. My husband thought the fox was so cute he joked about making a pet of it, but we would never do that. I felt uneasy, though, thinking about rabies.
A few days later, after several more visits from the fox, I was watching TV—”Live, with Kelly” and whoever. A guest on the show was Peter Gros, an animal expert from Animal Planet. He had some kits—baby foxes—to show, and they were adorable. He said foxes are largely misunderstood, and that if you have them in your neighborhood you should be grateful. They are beneficial animals, keeping down rodents and insects.
I felt a little better, but still…. We discovered that the fox we saw in our yard had a den behind a blackberry patch, and was a nursing mother. I wanted to know more, still being concerned about rabies, and our cat. So I Googled “foxes.”
I found out they are friendly, playful creatures who CAN get rabies, but very rarely. I found a lot of information from good sources like Wildlife Removal.com. They say “foxes are not especially dangerous to humans or most pets. They do not see humans, cats or dogs as prey.”
One day I went outside and found our cat sunbathing on her back about 20 feet from the fox nosing around in the grass. They didn’t mind each other at all. The fox didn’t seem to mind me either, but I kept my distance. Some of our neighbors have been concerned about seeing the fox close to our house during the day. They suggested we shoot it.
According to Humane Society.org, “It is quite common to see foxes hunting food during the day.” Also, “Foxes are not dangerous to humans except when they are rabid.” (Which is rare).
I found more information of interest from the Centers of Disease Control: Despite evidence that control of dog rabies through programs of animal vaccination and elimination of stray dogs can reduce the incidence of human rabies, exposure to rabid dogs is still the cause of 90% of human exposures to rabies, and of 99% of human rabies worldwide.” Not foxes.
“More than 90% of all rabid animals reported to CDC each year occur in wildlife. The main animals that get rabies include raccoons, skunks, foxes, and bats. However most people are exposed to rabies due to close contact with domestic animals such as cats and dogs.” Not foxes.
Wild animals accounted for 92% of reported cases of animal rabies reported in 2014. Raccoons continued to be the most frequently reported rabid wildlife species (accounting for 30.2% of all animal cases during 2014), followed by bats (29.1%,) skunks (26.3%), and foxes (4.1%).” That means 95.9% of these reported cases were not foxes.
Another excellent source of information is http://www.dgif.virginia.gov/wildlife/urban/.
Our unvaccinated pets, (and strays) get rabies from wild animals. Let’s get all our pets vaccinated, and kept up to date. Let’s educate ourselves, also. I don’t believe it is necessary to kill beautiful creatures just because they have a chance of getting sick. If we educate ourselves we can share this Earth humanely.
Of course we need to stay alert to any suspicious changes in animal behavior and report it to the authorities. But there are so many things much more dangerous than wild animals—like tobacco, that kills hundreds of thousands of Americans a year, but no one is really gunning for that, or impaired drivers who get too many chances to kill someone, just to name a couple of today’s dangers. Let’s get things in perspective.
Bessie L. Wells
Editor’s note: See Bessie Wells’ photos of foxes on Page 1.


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