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Fort Worth man bitten by rabid skunk

FORT WORTH -- A Fort Worth man got quite a surprise Tuesday morning when a rabid skunk walked out from under his car and suddenly bit him on the foot.

The man, who asked not be identified, was walking "Zena," his black Labrador retriever/Rotweiller mix, about 3 a.m. in the front yard of his house in far northwest Fort Worth when he saw a skunk walking down his street. Not wanting his dog to go after the animal, the man put the dog in the house and went back outside to investigate.

"The skunk walked out from under my car," the man said incredulously. "I figured I would stand still and let it go by. I guess it decided I was strange or something and it took a bite of my foot."

The man, fearing the skunk might have rabies, said he grabbed a rock out his wife's garden and began to follow it at a safe distance, not wanting to get sprayed or get his neighbors' houses sprayed. Once it walked into an open field, the man said he struck the skunk until it stopped moving.

"I was pretty determined to get the skunk so they could test it," the man said.

After looking on the Internet to see what to do next, the man said he bagged up the skunk and put it in a cooler on ice. He then went to an area hospital, where he received a tetanus shot and the first of several rabies shots.

Officers with Fort Worth Animal Care and Control later sent the skunk to Austin for testing. The man said an animal control officer confirmed Wednesday that the skunk did, in fact, have rabies.

Amy Casas, a spokeswoman for the City of Fort Worth Public Health Department, said the case was definitely unusual. She cannot recall ever hearing about a skunk walking up to someone and biting them on the foot.

"It is definitely not something we have seen," she said.

Casas pointed out, however, that it is not unusual for skunks to carry rabies. In fact, she said, this is the sixth skunk that has tested positive for rabies this year. It is the first case involving human exposure.

She said that animal control officers on Wednesday went to the area of the skunk attack, which occurred on Pepperidge Lane, located near the Interstate 35W and U.S. 287 split near Saginaw, and informed residents about the incident.

"If you see wildlife behaving strangely, you should definitely report it," Casas said. "Please don't approach them."

The man who got bit learned that the hard way, but has a sense of humor about it.

"If you see any animals, go the other way," he said, joking. "I growl and foam at the mouth, now. People don't mess with me anymore."