NEW YORK — Officials are warning residents of Westchester County after at least two possibly rabid coyotes attacked people and pets in the area.
As of Friday night, one of the coyotes has been fatally shot by a police officer. The other remains on the loose.
The coyotes were spotted in the area of Kent Ave, Overlook Drive and Clarewood Drive in Hastings-on-Hudson and the Homefield section of Yonkers. These attacks occurred on Wednesday evening and Thursday. Due to the coyotes' aggressive behavior, they are believed to be rabid.
Patricia Dundas says she heard a crash against her door and opened it to find a terrified, injured postal worker who had just been attacked by a coyote.
"I knew she was fighting off something, and I was afraid it might come into the house," Dundas said. "She got bit on her thigh, and her knee. And she was crying, and very, very upset, and scared."
Deli owner Paul Singh says one victim emerged from a bike trail in front of his front door on busy Tuckahoe Road.
"I saw one lady, old lady, screaming," Sing said. "She said, 'oh, coyote, coyote, almost bit me.'"
The Westchester County Police Department eventually tracked down a coyote near the driving range at the Dunwoodie Golf Course in Yonkers.
"The coyote did become aggressive with the police officer, came out of the brush, and bit that officer, and was shot at that time," said department spokesman Kieran O’Leary.
But there is one big problem.
Yonkers Police officials say there is still a second coyote – possibly rabid – still on the loose.
The Health Department is notifying residents in the area to not approach the animal, to contact police if they see it and to take precautions with pets.
“Stay alert and closely supervise children and pets when outside,” said Health Commissioner Sherlita Amler, MD. “If you observe this coyote, do not approach it and make sure to contact local police immediately.”
Unusual behavior may be the first sign of rabies in an animal. A rabid animal may become either abnormally aggressive or unusually tame. It may lose fear of people and become excited and irritable, or appear particularly passive and lethargic. Staggering and frothing at the mouth are sometimes noted.
Residents who see a stray or wild animal acting strangely should avoid contact with the animal and alert local authorities to avoid possible exposure to rabies. Residents are also advised to keep their trash can lids securely sealed and avoid leaving pet food outdoors.
Any physical contact with a wild or unfamiliar animal should be reported to a health care provider. All animal bites or contacts with animals suspected of having rabies must be reported to the Westchester County Department of Health at (914) 813-5000, 24 hours a day.
Keeping pet rabies vaccinations up to date is also important for protection against rabies. New York State law requires dogs, cats and ferrets to be vaccinated against rabies and receive regular booster shots. For more information, go to http://www.westchestergov.com/health or call the RABIES INFOLINE at (914) 813-5010.