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Union County couple describes vicious rabid fox attack: 'I could not get it off me'

The couple had just finished dinner when the attacks took place. They're hoping their story will put others on alert.

WINGATE, N.C. — A Union County couple is recovering after being attacked by a rabid fox.

For five years, Phil and Gail Rollins have lived nestled in the woods of Wingate, but this month they experienced nature like never before.

“Phil heard a ruckus out the front door," Gail Rollins said. "So, he got up and came out and he kept saying, ‘Get away. Get away. Get out of here,’ and the fox didn’t run.”

Instead, the fox attacked them, starting with Phil before it grabbed hold of Gail when she tried to help her husband. 

“It went after me," Phil Rollins said. "Got me on the back of the leg. Got me on my arm.”

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"I could not get it off of me," Gail Rollins added. "I just couldn’t.”

Gail said they shot the fox three times, before a neighbor heard their screams, came over, and shot it again, finally putting it down.

“Something we don’t want to go through again, I can tell you that," Phil Rollins said.

The Union County Sheriff's Office said the fox tested positive for rabies.

“We have not had any other reports of this fox attacking any other animal," Lt. James Maye said. "We believe this fox saw the cat, saw the outdoor food, and was attracted to this home for that.”

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Wildlife biologist David Crowe with Critter Control said foxes don't like being around humans and will typically try to get away.

"Walk calmly and directly back indoors and most of the time fox will leave," Crowe said. "If you see one that looks rabid, it's acting funny, drunk, stumbly -- call animal control.”

As for guarding against them, he said there isn't much you can do other than keeping hiding spots, like wood piles, on the back of your property. 

The Rollins are now receiving treatment for rabies exposure and hoping their story will put others on alert.

“Don’t think a little  8-pound, 9-pound fox can’t put a hurting on you because they can," Phil Rollins said. "Be wary of any animal that’s a wild animal because you just don’t know.”

Contact Kayland Hagwood at khagwood@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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