Date: February 15, 2005 "For Immediate Release"
To: News Media
From: Sheriff Grady Judd
Media Contact:

Michal Shanley, (863) 534-6631 OR (863) 981-2375 Pager

Fox Involved in Attack Confirmed Positive for Rabies

The fox that attacked a 3-year-old Lakeland girl yesterday afternoon has tested positive for rabies. The fox, described as a full grown adult, approximately 2 feet in length, and weighing 8 to 12 pounds, was killed by the victim's father and the remains were sent to a lab for testing. The test proved positive for rabies.

In response, the Polk County Sheriff's Office Animal Control Section will send a "communicator" message (an automated, recorded telephone message) to all residents in the area of the attack notifying them of the positive rabies test result and reminding them to properly vaccinate their pets and please report any suspicious acting animals to the Animal Control Section at 499-2600.

At approximately 1:30 p.m. yesterday afternoon (Monday, Feb. 14, 2005), the victim - 3-year-old Savannah Baars - was playing outside her residence located at 5771 Cherry Tree Drive in Lakeland, when the fox ran from behind the home (there is a wooded area in back of the home) and attacked the young girl. The girl's father - Jeff Baars - was nearby and kicked the fox away from the girl. The fox started in the direction of the girl again, at which time the father picked up a car battery and killed the fox. Family members took the girl to Lakeland Regional Medical Center, where she was treated for scratches and abrasions on her arms and legs (there were no apparent puncture wounds).  Given the positive result for rabies, the victim will seek appropriate treatment.

Distribution: Chief of Staff, Division Commanders, Communications, News Media

A text only version of this release is also available.

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