WAYNE, N.J. (1010 WINS/CBS 2) — The Wayne Police Department sent out a reverse 911 alert Thursday to warn residents of a possibly rabid fox terrorizing neighborhoods.

“The fox is showing signs of illness,” Detective Capt. James Clarke told 1010 WINS. “We’re just trying to get that word out.”

Maria Elliott tells 1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg that her dog attacked the fox after it came in her backyard

Clarke said the police department received four separate complaints from residents about a fox acting “strangely.”

Around 4 p.m. Wednesday, a woman called police to report a fox sleeping in her backyard. An hour later, another woman called 911 and said a fox had bit the tire of the bicycle her child was riding and then nipped at the pants of another child.

“The woman screamed and scared the fox off,” Clarke said.

Later, police believe the same fox bit the leg of a woman walking her dog. Then around 6:40 p.m., Ranger Robert Morgenfruh and Animal Control Officer Terry Burchuk went to Lowell Drive after Maria Elliott said her dog got into a fight with a fox. The dog was not injured.

Elliott said her 28-pound Australian shepherd stood his ground when the aggressive fox came into her backyard.

“He’s a shepherd so I think instinctively they’re going to try to defend their flock, their little sheep, so I guess that’s us,” Elliott told 1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg. “We’re surprised, we said, ‘Wow, he’s really defending.'”

CBS 2’s Cindy Hsu spoke to Holly Saper, who said the animal went after her two young children on their front lawn.

“It approached my son, who was about a foot away from the sidewalk and came right up to him and snarled and showed its teeth and snapped at him. It never bit him, but it came really close,” Saper said.

The animal left tracks behind and ended up hiding in the Saper’s garage for 15 minutes before running off.

Dog owners like Sam Finkler are on alert.

“I was worried for my dog and my safety,” Finkler said.

“It’s scary because we’re always outside here playing with the kids and everyone’s garage door is open. Everyone’s outside, and now we’ll just have to be really careful,” mother Kim Jordan said.

Police are advising residents to take the following precautions:

  • Avoid and do not approach wildlife.
  • Keep garage and other exterior doors closed.
  • Do not leave children or pets outside unattended.
  • If an animal resembling a fox is observed, report it to the Wayne Police Department immediately with a location and address.
  • Report any contact or exposure to the Wayne Police Department immediately