ROCHESTER MILLS — A 13-year-old boy saved his elderly neighbor from a rabid fox attack last month by jumping into action when he heard her calling for help.
Gage Orf, who recently turned 14, had just returned home with his mother, Jodi Orf, and siblings from grocery shopping. According to Jodi Orf, it was around 10:30 a.m., not the typical time for an animal to be wandering around. Gage and his mom saw an animal running around the neighbor’s yard, but couldn’t’ tell what it was, Jodi said.
While taking their groceries inside, the Orfs’ neighbor Sylvia Work, 81, came outside to do some weeding in her flower bed. The Orfs tried to tell her there was some kind of animal running around, but she didn’t hear them.
Work said she had just walked around to wash her hands at the hose when she saw the rabid fox running straight toward her.
“I hollered for help a couple of different times, but nobody went by and nobody went by, and he heard me hollering, so he was my hero,” Work said. “I just didn’t know what else to do. I just thought I’ve got to keep this thing from biting me.”
She held it off as best she could, but was bitten in the leg. Work had one deep puncture, and a second more shallow in her leg, and several scratches on her hands, she explained.
Jodi Orf said she turned to Gage and said “run,” and that was all it took for him to go to Work’s rescue.
“He just ran, and I never thought in my wildest dreams that it had rabies or anything, I just thought she needed help shooing it away,” Orf said. “I’ve never seen a rabid animal, so I didn’t really think anything of it.”
Orf said by the time she got her shoes back on and made it around Work’s house, Gage had his hands around the fox’s neck, and had it secured. Another neighbor down the street had a dog kennel on their front porch, so Gage carried the fox to it, and locked it in the cage for the Pennsylvania Game Commission.
Gage said he would do the same thing, even now knowing the fox had rabies. He said the first thing he thought to do was just reach in and grab it from her. He’s looking forward to sharing the story when he goes back to school in the fall.
Sylvia was taken to the hospital for treatment, and to get shots for rabies. Gage wasn’t bitten by the fox, but was still given the shots for safety, in case any saliva had gotten into a cut or anything.
According to Ned Kimmel with the Pennsylvania Game Commission, this is the only rabid fox that has been reported in the area. Kimmel was the officer who responded to the call from Orf about the fox.
“This one was very clearly sick. I’ve had no other calls about other animals being sick up there,” Kimmel said. “Rabies is statewide, so it’s not any more likely than anywhere else. All throughout the county we get a couple each year.”
He said that while it’s unusual to see animals like foxes and raccoons in the day time, they do come out sometimes.
“Animals like foxes and raccoons are more active at night time, but they do come out in the daytime. This one looked sick. If they’re not easily scarring, or trying to escape into the woods or away from the person, that is uncommon behavior,” Kimmel said.
Kimmel also said it was brave of Gage to take action like he did to save his neighbor.
“Kudos to him, he just reached down and grabbed it and threw it in the dog kennel,” he said.