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Rabid otter bites dog and man in Jupiter

Man bitten by otter for 'several minutes' on Marlin Drive, Palm Beach County Animal Care and Control says
Palm Beach County Animal Care and Control said this otter attacked a dog and a man on Sept. 23, 2023.
Posted at 2:08 PM, Sep 25, 2023
and last updated 2023-09-25 23:20:26-04

JUPITER, Fla. — A river otter with rabies bit a man and a dog last week in Jupiter, according to the Florida Department of Health.

The attack occurred Wednesday in the 900 block of Marlin Drive.

According to a Palm Beach County Animal Care and Control report, an officer was called at 11:18 a.m. to 148 Florida Ave. after police said the otter was trapped under a recycling bin in a driveway. The animal control officer arrived at the scene and let the animal loose and was then able to capture it with a net, later transferring it to a carrier.

The report said the animal was showing signs that were abnormal, acting hyperactive. In the transfer carrier, the 3-year-old otter bared its teeth and was biting the metal of the carrier, the officer said.

Joseph Scaglione, 74, who was bitten by the otter told Animal Care and Control that he was feeding corn to ducks at a nearby pond. When he was finished, he turned around to go inside.

While walking back toward his property, he heard all of the ducks fly away. When he turned around, he spotted the otter by the bank. The report said he began to back up slowly while still facing the otter, but that's when it attacked him for several minutes.

"I backed up along the fence but when I started to close the gate, it charged, immediately attacking my legs," Scaglione told WPTV.

Scaglione was bitten on both arms and legs.

"I started to push it away, and it started to bite my hands," Scaglione told WPTV. "One of the bites I have is on my pinkie and it ripped the nail off the pinkie. [It] looks like the tooth went completely through my finger."

Scaglione told WPTV he is receiving a series of shots for rabies exposure and is going to a hand surgeon on Tuesday to see if he suffered any permanent damage.

The report said the officer did not have information on the dog owner and the pet that was attacked. However, the police officer who responded to the scene said the owner took the dog to a veterinarian for treatment.

Tests conducted on Saturday revealed that the otter tested positive for rabies, health officials said.

Residents in the area are advised to avoid contact with any wildlife including feral cats and report suspicious animals to Animal Care and Control.

Rabies is a disease of the nervous system and is fatal to warm-blooded animals and humans if not treated.

Pet owners are advised to adhere to the following guidelines to combat rabies:

  • Keep rabies vaccinations up to date for all pets.
  • Keep your pets under direct supervision so they do not come in contact with wild animals. If you or your pet are bitten by a wild animal, seek medical or veterinary assistance immediately and contact Animal Care & Control at 561-233-1215
  • Call your local animal control agency to remove any stray animals from your neighborhood
  • Spay or neuter your pets to help reduce the number of unwanted pets that may not be properly cared for or regularly vaccinated
  • Do not handle, feed, or unintentionally attract wild animals with open garbage cans or litter
  • Never adopt wild animals or bring them into your home
  • Teach children never to handle unfamiliar animals, wild or domestic, even if they appear friendly
  • Prevent bats from entering living quarters or occupied spaces in homes, churches, schools, and other similar areas where they might come in contact with people and pets