Pregnant woman, 17-year-old dog attacked by rabid fox in Tifton

If a wild animal ever bites you, seek immediate medical care.
Published: Sep. 21, 2023 at 6:31 PM EDT
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TIFTON, Ga. (WALB) - A pregnant woman in Tifton is recovering and mourning the loss of her beloved dog after they were both attacked by a rabid fox.

Katie Wisham, who is five and a half months pregnant, let her 17-year-old dog Piper outside around 6 a.m. a week ago, and then shortly heard her yelping. When Katie went to see what was wrong, she saw that Piper was being attacked by a fox.

“I tried to grab her and when I did, I fell down. And when I fell down, the fox went for the back of my legs— and bit and scratched me,” Katie said. “Luckily we have an outside cat and when that outside cat took off running, the fox chased it and that’s kind of how it ended.”

Piper had to be euthanized. The fox was caught, euthanized and tested for rabies-- which came back positive. While Katie says she is healing well, she wants to know what can be done to prevent things like this from happening to others.

“If I see a fox, how can we alert others? Because if I would’ve known there was a fox in the area, I would’ve been diligent with on keeping Piper and myself safe. Definitely a fox in the middle of town is that I feel like our neighbors and people around us need to be aware of,” Katie said.

South Georgia is home to several species of wild animals including raccoons, foxes and bats— that all can carry rabies. Here are some tips the South Health District is offering to protect you and your family from rabies:

  • Avoid contact with animals you don’t know
  • Make sure your pet has proper immunizations
  • Never adopt wild animals or bring them into your home

“The main takeaway from this is definitely get your animals vaccinated,” Tamika Pridgon, Department of Public Health South Health District environmental health specialist, said. “If it comes in contact with your skin, go to your local physician or emergency room and get treated. Then they can determine if you need the post exposure prophylaxis.”

Katie spent five hours in the emergency room, receiving a total of nine shots. She will receive 12 total to prevent the disease.

“I really don’t know how I would’ve got it to stop because I kept kicking at it, and it just kept coming back at us,” Katie said.

“It’s just a blessing because it could’ve been a lot worst. I’m thankful that the fox did run off when it did. But it was still very unfortunate,” Eric Wisham, Katie’s husband, said.

If a wild animal ever bites you, seek immediate medical care. Contact animal control and the environmental health office in your county.