PALM BEACH COUNTY, FLA. (WSVN) – A Florida man is on the road to recovery after a terrifying encounter with a rabid otter left him with multiple bite wounds. Joseph Scaglione, an avid bird feeder, was going about his usual routine last Wednesday morning, feeding the birds that congregated outside his backyard gate.
“I normally go out and feed ducks in the back… Ducks, geese, Ibis,” Scaglione said.
However, on that day, everything took a sudden turn. The birds he was feeding abruptly scattered, leaving him puzzled. Scaglione recounted the shocking moment when he noticed a “brown head sticking up over the bank of the pond,” initially unaware it was an otter.
Scaglione started slowly backing towards his gate, but as he reached to close it, the otter launched a sudden attack, causing him to trip and fall. The otter bit him 41 times on his legs, hands and arms.
“My pinky is the worst… I have two puncture wounds. I’m not sure if it goes right through, or whatever. One is on the corner of where the cuticle was,” Scaglione said.
In a desperate struggle, Scaglione managed to toss the otter away and reach safety. Later that day, the otter, now a public concern, crossed paths with a couple, their baby and their dog in the same neighborhood, launching an attack on the dog. Residents were able to capture the rabid animal by covering it with a recycling bin.
“We captured the animal, we were able to secure it, get it here in our facility. From there, a sample is collected that’s sent to the state laboratory in Jacksonville,” said Palm Beach County Animal Care and Control Captain David Walesky.
The results, which arrived on Saturday, confirmed the otter was rabid.
Scaglione is currently undergoing rabies treatment and is relieved that the otter is no longer a threat. He has already returned to his beloved bird-feeding routine.
“It’s nice back out there. We really enjoy it. We have the ducks and the geese come all the time,” Scaglione said.
Palm Beach County Animal Control reported it to be the first otter with rabies reported in over a decade.
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