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Letters the Editor

July 20, 1998

To the editor:

I am the father of Lauren Riviello, who was attacked by a fox on July 8, and is currently undergoing treatment for rabies. The incident has been reported in several articles.

I believe this whole situation could have been avoided. It was handled without any regard whatsoever for public safety.

I have been told by several of my neighbors that they made numerous calls to local agencies regarding a fox that had been exhibiting very unusual behavior for days and even hours before the attack on my daughter.

One neighbor's first thought was to shoot the fox after it had been wandering around his garage. Instead, he decided to do what any law-abiding citizen would have done. He called the local DNR office.

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One neighbor called the DNR office three hours before my daughter was attacked. What they thought would be a phone call to get help with an alarming situation ended up with my neighbors receiving threats of fines and/or imprisonment, if the fox were harmed.

They were told that their house was built in the fox's domain and that they should just ignore the animal. They were also told that the fox would not bother them.

I haven't received the training that a DNR official has, but I do know enough to realize that this fox had a problem and needed to be dealt with. It is unbelievable to me that several reports to the DNR from the same area didn't spark any interest.

The DNR was not the only one to drop the ball. Animal Control had an opportunity to contain the fox after the attack. When my wife and daughter were leaving in the ambulance, the fox came back out of the brush, and was biting and hanging from my daughter's swing. I had been told that Animal Control only deals with dogs and cats. If this is the case, why did the 911 dispatcher send them to my house when DNR had already been called?

When receiving the dispatch and knowing it involved a fox, why did they respond if they only deal with dogs and cats? Why did Animal Control, after arriving at the scene, call off DNR? Needless to say, nobody did anything about the fox.

Last, but not least, we come to the County Health Department. Upon arriving home on the morning of July 9, one of my neighbors had spotted the fox and shot it. With the assistance of another neighbor, the fox was placed in a trash bag and hung from a tree to prevent any other animals or humans from being exposed. My neighbor and I called the county health department. We were instructed to call Animal Control, which instructed us to call DNR, which instructed us to call the county health department. A call was then placed to the County Administrator.

We later received a call from the county health department and were told to remove the head of the fox and bring it to them since this was the only way they would process the testing for rabies. They wanted us to remove the head of a rabid fox!

They only wanted the head. Could the rest of the body potentially infect other animals or humans, if not disposed of properly? Finding these instructions unacceptable, another call was made to the county administrator. My neighbor informed that office that I had no problem bringing the fox to a county meeting to be held later that evening. I later received a call from the DNR's office in Charleston. After explaining what we were told by the county health department, I was told that we were not properly immunized against rabies and should not handle the fox.

I was also told that the local DNR official would pick up the fox for testing. The fox was hanging in the tree from 10:30 a.m. until it was picked up at about. 7 p.m.

This unfortunate event could have been avoided and my daughter would not have been exposed to a deadly disease with a little more interest from certain local agencies. And let's not forget the misinformation that the health department gave, which could have exposed myself and my neighbors to a deadly disease without our knowledge.

The fox did test positive for rabies.

Michael P. Riviello

Shepherdstown, W.Va.

Too cold

To the editor:

I have been attending the Shenandoah Summer Music Theatre for many years and a finer group would be hard to find anywhere.

They have outgrown the old theater and have built a new modern theater with a modern sound system and new lighting system and most importantly, new air-conditioning. We always complained about the old air-conditioning being too cold. We were told it couldn't be regulated. It was either on full or off.

Because their musicals are so good, I wore my jacket to each performance.

Now the new theater is open and the lighting and sound are fine. The air conditioning, on the other hand, makes the place more like a meat locker! It is different from the old theater, which was just cold. The new theater has added a breeze to the even colder air.

So, be warned. If you plan to go to the Shenandoah Summer Music Theatre, bring a warm coat or blanket!

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