Rabid behavior in a quiet little town

November 13, 2018


Behind our beautiful flowers and chubby-cheeked children, Fairhope is hiding a real-life horror that has me on edge.


Rabid critters are running wild around town. On the golf course, men have been attacked by crazed foxes, forcing them into paw-to putter combat. In the hospital parking lot, a rabid raccoon ran out of the bushes and bit a lady on her leg. This week, a crazed beady-eyed rat was seen staggering around our church parking lot.


Everyone in town is on guard since the last attack happened to a lady who was lollygagging on her porch. Out of nowhere, the fox shot out of the brush and got her.

We love to stroll down shady lanes and swing on porch swings. Golf is practically a requirement, so what are we going to do? Uncle Zepher got the rabies years ago from a possum caught in a trap, and before he could get the medicine that saved his life, he swears one of his eyes turned green — a lifelong reminder to respect nature, for sure.

Citizens are taking precautions against the scraggly, horrible looking beasts with weapons of all sorts— pepper spray is flying off the shelves.  I’m careful with firearms since my family has a history of accidentally shooting themselves or blowing multiple holes in brand new garden hoses when they think it’s a snake, so when I worked in the yard last week, I opted for a giant knife. I practiced throwing it a few times and got pretty good at hitting targets. Keekee stopped by and after showing her how I could hit the crepe myrtle, said, “You’re going to cut your foot off before you’re bit by any coon,” but then asked where she could get a knife like mine.

At 2am, when I do my best thinking, I realized we have doggie doors that would be the perfect entryway for a sick critter to waltz right in to my house and gnaw my face off while I slept. My hounds would defend me but would also be attacked by the devil-coon and then I’d have to go to the hospital and my dogs would be dead. At the thought of my dead dogs, I worked myself into a little sniffle— because things are always sadder in the middle of the night. Bob woke up and said, “Are you crying?” “I’m afraid the rabid raccoons will come through the doggie doors.” That man is so brave, he just rolled over and went right back to sleep.


A few years ago, a beautiful red mother fox and her pups would trot down our street every morning. They would go into my neighbor’s yard where the mama would jump into the empty birdbath and curl up for a nap while her frisky little ones would wait below where they couldn’t reach her. Admiring her parenting skills, it reminded me of when I’d lock myself in the bathroom and the boys would bang on the door.


Animal control officials think people feeding the feral cats in town may have inadvertently attracted wildlife and aided in the spread of the awful disease. Until it’s under control, the scariest thing in town is to take your garbage can to the curb at night. In addition to the animals, there’s the new fear of being maced, stabbed, shot or kicked by your neighbors. Oh, the excitement of living in a small Southern town.

*— reports of rabies were very real, but have slowed down now and may be under control which is a great relief to us all. We can get back to shopping, watching our beautiful little girls twirl their batons and little boys frolic on the football fields. Life is once again beautiful in Fairhope. (but I’m keeping the knife close while I pick satsumas). 



  • I have been reading about these attacks, we are having similar problems on Ono, coyotes are eating pets, it’s awful! And we had squirrels take up residence under our house and rats too all of a sudden…think about it, squirrels on our island, there aren’t even any trees except palms, where did they come from??? The pest people have no explanation, but said they have noticed increasing populations…do you think it’s because of so much growth and construction? Please keep safe, you don’t need any more health issues for a while! Keep us posted!

    • Squirrels on an island . . . that’s a great name for a book! What is it lately? I don’t think it’s over-building, global warming or chemicals in the water. I think it’s people wearing white dress shoes in November and bringing store-bought chicken in a plastic Publix container to the dinner on the grounds. It upsets the balance of the world. Crazy, I say.

  • It’s happening everywhere with greedy developers plowing up and tearing down every tree and blade of grass. The poor animals have nowhere to go. I have a friend in the town of Clemson who had a SKUNK waltz into her house through the pet door! Yikes!!! Whenever Southern Living writes a “best kept secrets”, I yell Nooooo now it’s not a secret anymore.

    • A skunk? Now there’s something new for me to think about in the middle of the night! How funny and horrible at the same time. City councils claim to have their hands tied when it comes to growth because of zoning, but there has to be a way to be responsible.

  • Arlene Cocke says:

    Fairhope is hardly a quiet little town, any more!
    Lived here over 50 yrs ago, when it was Fairhope,,,,
    Sorry, any one wanting to chat and remember, I am easy to find,,,

    • You are right about that. Magazines naming us the “best of” kind of ruined our small quaint status, didn’t they? It brought all the crazy raccoons into town!Now another big field will be gone and a new ALDI will be there. Ugg! As if the hideous WalMart across the street didn’t have enough for us.

  • Arlene Cocke says:

    Really, Ms.Leslie?
    You live in Fairhope, you must be aware of what is going on and what is happening right before our eyes!!
    Let’s see, pass a home or building in the am on the way to work, and on the way home?
    Gone, gone, gone! Another deep pocketed pirate or group of pirates, just gotta build a bigger eyesore!
    So where do you think these poor animals have been all this time, in fields that are now sub-divisions, and more and more and more,
    I feel for the animals, they were here FIRST!,,,,

    • Actually, that’s interesting you said that because one of the things I’ve been saving for a story is just what you said. Someone in Quail Creek complained of rodents running through their neighborhood when they built the neighborhood on top of a field – full of critters! It baffles me that the last five years have been over-load crazy with building and newcomers yet no one seems to be able to control it and make it a positive thing. We’ll see more wildlife displaced as more and more newcomers flood into town. We are the fastest growing city in the fastest growing county in the state. Forests, schools and roads are exploding!

  • Ellen Shook says:

    Even Mama Foxes need a break from the kiddies. Seriously, this really is scary. Practice your knife throwing skills!

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