Joppa-Magnolia Volunteer Firefighters May Receive Health Assessment after Rescuing Fox; Animal Euthanized to Test for Rabies

From the Harford County Health Department:

The Harford County Health Department appreciates the well-intentioned and successful animal-rescue efforts of the Joppa-Magnolia volunteer fire fighters. However exposure to rabies, a deadly viral disease, remains a critical consideration in these instances, since primary rabies vector species (including raccoons, foxes, skunks, and bats) are regarded as having the highest risk level of exposure to humans and domesticated animals.

When there is confirmed contact and the vector species is available for testing, the protocol is to euthanize the animal and submit it to the State Laboratory at the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene for rabies analysis. The greater concern in incidents such as this, is less about the animal than for public health and safety. If this fox is determined to be rabid the Harford County Health Department will conduct risk assessments of all firefighters that possibly had contact. Although it appears that none of the volunteer fire fighters was bitten or scratched, a slight risk of exposure from touching or handling an animal that is rabid still exists.

The euthanized fox pup was collected from Phoenix Wildlife Rescue at 12:30pm. In this particular case, the wildlife rehabilitator indicated that the fox was suffering from hydrocephaly, also known as water on the brain. This apparently caused the animal to have discomfort and cry out. She also indicated that this condition might have led the mother fox to abandon the pup.

The Health Department has partnered with the Joppa-Magnolia Fire Department for over 30 years to provide low cost rabies vaccination and their clinic routinely vaccinates the greatest number of animals. The Department wishes to reiterate how cooperative and enjoyable this relationship with them is, and to acknowledge their great dedication to the well-being of the community. However, for the protection of all concerned, it is best for wildlife professionals to handle these situations. If their staff were to engage in this sort of activity in the future, the Health Department recommends limiting the handling of the animal to one individual wearing heavy turn-out gear to protect against direct contact, and that the animal is isolated from exposure to other people and animals until secured.


  1. says

    Sad story, but a good lesson learned.
    Before messing with wildlife, please call an expert or someone who can put you in touch with one. Otherwise, you could be jeopardizing the health and well-being of yourself and the animal you’re intending to help.

    Well-loved. Thumb up 16 Thumb down 4
  2. Sally says

    As I said on the first picture… I knew the end was insight for this kit…. Now we will never know the truth as DNR and all involved can hide it… What if the baby didnt have rabies????? I know that when it comes to baby raccoons..foxes… etc because (yes) rabies are associated with them… they are put down…. BUT it did not mean that baby had rabies…….

    Well-loved. Thumb up 14 Thumb down 7
    • Kathle Woods says

      I promise you that we will let you know if it was positive or negative. DNR was not involved. It was the Health Department. But please realize: this baby had a horrible, incurable (for wildlife) disease and that is why he was euthanized. Perhaps OTHERWISE, he could have been kept in quarantine for a very long time.

      Well-loved. Thumb up 15 Thumb down 1
  3. Mic says

    You only contract rabbies through a bite wound, once again people can really use their power for evil! It was a baby.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 6 Thumb down 10
    • Patricia Cantler says

      You can contract rabies just from a rabid animals saliva getting into a cut in your skin, from being scratched if they have salivated on their feet. A person contracted rabies from an organ transplant. Just because it was a baby does not mean it couldn’t have been rabid. It is a rabies vector animal and precautions should always be taken even if it is a baby.

      Well-loved. Thumb up 13 Thumb down 3
      • Shemp says

        Exactly. I mean, I want to walk out on my deck and call all the wildlife like Ace Ventura and hug and kiss it and love it. But that’s me being selfish and not responsible for the well being of the animal. The whole point of this news is so that people are educated about the consequence of handling wildlife. Unless you have a permit, are an animal control officer, a wildlife rehab cooperator, etc etc (you should get my drift here) you should’nt be putting your grubby little fingers on the creatures out there in the woods.

        Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 7 Thumb down 5
  4. Shemp says

    Why would anyone hide anything? That’s ridiculous. Even if the kit wasn’t handled by those guys, he was sick and was going to be euthanized anyway. He had hydrocephalus (water on the brain). Now, if he weren’t sick, that fox kit’s fate would have been sealed the moment those guys touched it without wearing gloves. Putting pictures on the internet cuddling certainly damned the poor creature. Any time a human touches a rabies vector species they are endangering the animals life.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 6 Thumb down 4
  5. Shemp says

    It was a baby. Yes. And the kittens that were found in a carrier at a High’s store in the jarrettsville area ALL had RABIES. Rabies doesn’t discriminate with age.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 10 Thumb down 6
  6. Christopher Boardman says

    Let’s see if I understand this: the baby fox was caught, but no one knew if he had rabies. The logical thing to do would be to keep the fox isolated until it is clear he does have rabies, or does not. If he has rabies, then euthanizing the fox is kinder than letting him die of the disease. If he doesn’t have rabies, that’s fine, but the animal is already dead. Bravo! Bravo! Bravo! So much for preserving innocent and disease-free life.
    This makes me think that everyone who is suspected of having contracted tuberculosis, a contagious disease, should be euthanized so that no one else gets sick from it. And while we’re at it, let’s throw every other disease into the mix too, so there’s nobody but healthy people left.
    People who make and enforce these policies should be required to pass an ethics course. Thank goodness I’m not another species or I would be killed for sure. Oops forgot, unless you’re on the wrong end of a gun!

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 13 Thumb down 22
    • Kathle Woods says

      TO: Christopher Boardman In this case, the animal would have been euthanized ANYWAY because it had a terrible disease which was causing it terrible pain. Please understand that. Hydrocephaly is a very painful ailment, to children and baby foxes. It was the humane thing to do. The fact that 100 people touched it and put it on Facebook is another issue entirely.

      Well-loved. Thumb up 18 Thumb down 4
    • B says

      Chris and his fellow libs have no problem killing babies as long as they are human, but a diseased baby fox, that may or may not carry a life threatening disease? Outrage!

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 7 Thumb down 14
      • j says

        You are an idiot. Way to bring YOUR politics into a story about a baby fox that may or may not have had anything wrong with it.

        Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1
  7. Bob Evans says

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

    Poorly-rated. Thumb up 9 Thumb down 20
  8. Old Skool says

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

    Poorly-rated. Thumb up 7 Thumb down 23
  9. i only wish says

    I wish there were a test out there for rabies that did not involve killing the animal, slicing its head open testing the brain.

    Well-loved. Thumb up 10 Thumb down 1
  10. Please... says

    Seriously? It’s a kit fox with a fatal medical condition. You animal huggers need to get over it. If you feel that strongly about it, then go volunteer at an animal shelter or something.

    Do any of you have any idea how many fox are running around in Edgewood? A lot. I can’t drive around there at night without nearly running over at least 2 or 3 (and no, I’m not going to swerve to avoid hitting one…I’m not risking a motor vehicle crash that might injure me or someone else to avoid hitting a fox, rabbit, etc that ran in front of my car.)

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 7 Thumb down 15
  11. Bakersbabe says

    As I remember reading and hearing, the fire fighters attempted to get help that night with the kit. No one was available. It wasn’t like they didn’t try to find someone who would take the kit and care for it. And the pictures I have seen showed the young man who was holding the fox had on nitrile gloves or the fox was in a plastic enclosure. What these young men did was commendable. At least they made the effort to save an innocent animal from an unfortunate situation. Glad everyone here is quick to offer their opinion…if you know so much about it, where were you the night the kit was found?

    Well-loved. Thumb up 13 Thumb down 3
  12. The Money Tree says

    Feel very sad about this but it most likely was very sick and had to be put down however I take issue with the overblown “risk” as cited by the health department. Indeed the animals they list on thier warning sheet might have increased incidents of rabies but that doesn’t mean those incidents represent only a fraction of thier population, particularly with reference to bats which are far more beneficial than suspect as they consume thousands of bugs (misquitoes). Such alarmist misrepresentation only leads the ill informed to routinely kill these animals out of fear. If an animal is acting strangely or doesn’t try to hide from you it may indeed be sick but if it just happens across your lawn or is a young animal that isn’t grounds to run out with a baseball bat and kill it. Do your homework health department before spreading alarm over nothing.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 6 Thumb down 2
    • Flamingo Lady says

      Your admonishment of the Health Department “spreading alarm” is just as astounding as some of the comments posted here. Did you read and/or understand the article? The intelligence and reading comprehension skills of some posters here is questionable at best. This poor kit was suffering with water on its brain, which is why it was euthanized. The possibility of rabies was a secondary factor. Geez, people.

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 5 Thumb down 9
      • The Money Tree says

        Did you note I barely mentioned the kit and concentrated on the list of vector species the health department warned about. With all due respect when one is criticizing others for reading comprehension skills one ought to not be the biggest offender.

        Well-loved. Thumb up 7 Thumb down 2
  13. Silvie says

    You are really bad people! You killed a babyfox!

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 4 Thumb down 9
  14. says

    The disheartening part of this story is that neither the Harford County Animal Control or the MD DNR would respond to this call. After hearing the cries for help, and not hearing any response from the animal agencies, the firefighters did what they do, they saved a life with the best info they had in the best way they could.

    When discussing the potential brain damage on this creature, consider it weighed about 10 pounds and was found at the bottom of a 6′ storm drain. It likely fell between the grates. Could there have been some associated trauma? Maybe. Dehydration and malnutrition? Probably.

    Regardless, we at the JMVFC hope that this incident can be used by the Harford Co Animal Control and the MD DNR as a learning experience. We also hope that they can get protocols in place to allow animal professionals to handle these calls instead of firefighters. However, until they do, we will still be here to answer the calls they don’t.

    Well-loved. Thumb up 19 Thumb down 1
    • Mike Welsh says

      Well said. Thank you for your service. I appreciate what you and your other brothers and sisters do each and every day. Harford County Animal Control and the MD DNR would be well served if they had staff that were as dedicated, motivated and responsive as the men and women of the volunteer fire service.

      Well-loved. Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0
    • Glen says

      Animal control will come out for 2 reasons (maybe) during their non-regular hours. 1) An injured domestic animal when the owner can’t be located and 2) A domestic animal that is aggressive towards people. The county doesn’t give animal control enough of a budget to allow them to respond to anything other than an emergency outside of their regular hours.

      The HCSO runs into this problem on a regular basis when they get calls for dogs running loose in neighborhoods and unfortunately there is nothing deputies can normally do about it since there’s some mysterious directive, but nothing in policy, that was sent out over email years ago that forbids any deputy from transporting an animal in their car (because of one isolated incident where a deputy transported a dog that proceeded to tear the back seat apart.) The obvious exception being K-9 officers, but they can’t go stick another dog in the back with their partner either. Unfortunately, the sheriff hasn’t formed a committee yet to come up with alternatives to deal with calls like that.

      Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0
  15. Christopher Boardman says

    To B who cannot identify himself or herself, I don’t kill babies that are human or non-human. That is the most ridiculous garbage. Get your facts straight before you make allegations like that. But of course since you are anonymous you don’t have to be responsible for what you say or write.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 8 Thumb down 4
    • B says

      I apologize to you then. I am surprised that the only liberal position you don’t support is roe vs wade

      Thumb up 0 Thumb down 5
  16. Mr Pilkington says


    There are many liberal who are pro-life there called Catholics.

    Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2
    • Cdev says

      Shhhh that would destroy the stereotype that everyone is the same!

      Well-loved. Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0
    • Because says

      “They’re” not called anything. Labels are for the simple minded.

      Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1
  17. Christopher Boardman says

    The wars in Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq were fought without legal declarations of war as required by the Constitution. These committed money and lives. Shouldn’t the American people insisted that the Constitution be honored in these important matters? Seems more of a conservative issue than a liberal one. But so-called conservatives don’t mind trampling on the Constitution to get their wars.

    Habeas corpus and the Constitution are both being violated by the unlawful detention of prisoners at Guantanamo. People have a right to fair trials or need to be released but the police state that is the U.S. is detaining these people illegally and immorally. Shouldn’t this be a conservative issue against the unlawful intrusion of state power?

    These are just two issues that conservatives should be concerned about but they are conspicuously silent. Why are they leaving the field to liberals? With the exception of Ron Paul, they say nothing..

    The other point I made was about people killing animals and humans–enough said.

    Thumb up 4 Thumb down 3
  18. Common Sense says


    Habeas Corpus and the Constitution don’t apply to enemy combatant non-citizens who are housed in Guantanamo.

    Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2
      • Kharn says

        Only one American citizen has been acknowledged as being held at Gitmo for a period of time, he is no longer there.

        Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
        • Cdev says

          Seems like people wanted to put the second Boston Bomber there and saw no problem with it as if it was perfectly legal. One Citizen there is to many!!!!!!!

          Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0
          • Common Sense says

            Nothing wrong with an American citizen in Gitmo.

            It depends on the circumstances.

            The military could put Bradley Manning there.

            Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2
          • Cdev says

            It is a problem to deprieve American citizens of their Constitutional protected rights!!!!!

            Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
          • Because says

            Hear that silence B? It’s a drone at high altitude circling over you.

            Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2
  19. Christopher Boardman says

    Poor blind fools you are. If the American system is so great then we should apply the laws to others or at least adhere to the Geneva Conventions. I know your reply to that one too–the Geneva Conventions don’t apply because they are non-combatants, they don’t fight in military formations, they are guerrillas like the American Revolutionary soldiers. Who do you think you’re kidding? It is not right to hold people indefinitely without charges, it’s Unamerican, it’s inhumane also like torture. I feel bad for you people who think it’s okay to go back to the laws of the Middle Ages and Spanish Inquisition. What makes America great is that people have a right to a trial or they need to be released. But America is not great if it follows the practices of Middle Eastern despots.
    As for the illegal wars, let me hear you defend those. The Congress has gotten the country into a mess because it allows illegal wars and does not even have the courage to fund them. Shame!

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 2 Thumb down 8
  20. Christopher Boardman says

    I read books, apparently you are the crack head. Grow up!

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1
  21. whatever says

    I thought we were talking about foxes and rabies, not war and politics. unreal

    Well-loved. Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0
  22. big donkey says

    That guy is a creep, its obvious by the amount of thumbs down he gets.

    We went from foxes to the Geneva convention, fkin weirdo.

    Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1
  23. Claire says

    Sad for the fox cub, but much kinder than it dying of malnutrition, in pain.

    Good to see your fire service are so kind to animals.

    Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0