By Shereen Siewert
WAUSAU — The Wausau Police Department is responding to an internet controversy over a pet fox that was euthanized after biting a community service officer.
The controversy erupted on Facebook after the fox’s owner, Emily Krerzschmar, posted photos of the fox, named Evee, and comments about the circumstances surrounding the fox’s death.
Wausau Police on Wednesday posted this response to social media:
On Saturday, October 13 at about 5 pm, our department responded to a residence where a fox was on the caller’s back porch and wouldn’t leave. The fox had a collar. When a Wausau Community Service Officer (CSO) arrived, they located the animal and attempted to retrieve the fox to put it into the humane officer’s vehicle. While attempting to coax the fox into the cage, the fox bit the CSO on the finger causing a small puncture to the CSO’s finger.
The owner of the fox called to report the animal missing. When we spoke with the owner, she explained the fox had had gotten loose around noon. The owner told our Humane Officer that the fox would “frequently run off” and be missing for a couple hours. She also stated she wasn’t surprised the fox bit the CSO because they have to cup their own hand to feed the fox to prevent getting bit (which has happened on other occasions).
We consulted with the State Veterinarian regarding protocols we should follow for the potential rabies concern of the fox bite. The State Veterinarian said there is no scientific evidence of a rabies vaccine being effective in an animal that is not a domestic dog, cat, or ferret. The State Veterinarian further stated it is unknown the length of time that rabies could be in the human body after exposure from a wild animal before the human would show signs of rabies. The veterinarian recommended euthanization of the fox so the animal could be tested for rabies. For readers who don’t know, a rabies test for an animal requires the head be sent to the Wisconsin State Lab of Hygiene…. A simple blood test is not sufficient. In addition, rabies is nearly always fatal in unvaccinated humans.
While our CSO was not wearing bite gloves, it is important to make note of the fact that he was at the scene of a fox in a neighborhood within our city. This is extraordinarily unusual and is a difficult situation to encounter. He was doing his best to the serve the Wausau citizens, capture the fox to be sure it was not a risk to bite other citizens, and he has been a quality employee for our department and community. This CSO will face consequences for not wearing bite gloves, but the consequences will not consist of termination.
The police department will be working with the Wausau City Council in the future to discuss the possibility of an ordinance restricting wild animals who may carry rabies from being pets within the city limits. If you have opinions on an ordinance of that kind, feel free to contact your city council alderperson.
Finally, we are empathetic to the owners of this fox. We recognize they cared for and loved this fox as their pet. It is not our desire to have to respond to a situation that would result in the loss of an animal’s life. Our condolences go to the owners of the fox, Evee.