LIVINGSTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A brave little girl was bitten 19 times by a fox in New Jersey, but she was saved by a Good Samaritan.
She told her story to CBS2’s Lisa Rozner.
Eight-year-old Dylan Dratch’s ankle and shin are bandaged, and she has cuts on her arm — all from a feisty fox.
She thought she was dreaming when she felt the animal following her along a brook behind Deal Lane in Livingston.
“I ran just in case, and then it followed me, so then I knew it wasn’t a dream. It kept on following me,” she said.
Dylan says she was with friends around 4:45 p.m. Wednesday.
“And then I fell down when I was running away and then it started biting me on my leg,” she said.
A neighbor, 20-year-old Matt Nichter, heard her screaming.
“I sprinted at it and approached it kind of like this,” he said, spreading his arms wide, “and kind just showed that I was a lot bigger.”
He also threw a basketball at it.
“And then I kinda chased the fox and made sure that it left,” he said. “I didn’t really have a lot of fear because I knew I had a lot better chance than this 8-year-old girl.”
“Would you call him a hero?” Rozner asked Dylan.
“A lifesaver,” she said.
“He is a godsend, very grateful,” Stacey Dratch, Dylan’s mother, said.
Dylan’s mom says her resilient daughter was treated at the hospital and released the same night.
“Just grateful she’s OK. Scary call,” she said.
“Our animal control officer has been here 30 years plus, and this is the first time that we’ve had a fox attack a human,” Livingston Police Chief Gary Marshuetz said.
Now the state is working with Livingston police to put down traps in the neighborhood in hopes of catching the fox.
“It gives me the chills just to think about,” Livingston resident Frances Lombardo said.
Dylan says she won’t be playing outside for now, although she couldn’t say no to an ice cream party friends threw her Thursday.
Neighbors have grown closer during the pandemic, and that may have been why Nichter, who is home from college, was in the right place at the right time.