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A Florida man was horrifically mauled by a river otter while feeding ducks and geese in a pond outside his home.
Joseph Scaglione, 74, told news station WPBF-TV in Palm Beach that he had stepped outside his home in Jupiter to give the birds some food like he “normally” does when he realized something wasn’t quite right.
Scaglione said he was puzzled when the birds suddenly scattered while he was feeding them on Sept. 20.
He said that’s when he noticed a “brown head sticking up over the bank of the pond.”
“And at first I didn’t know it was an otter, but then I realized that’s an otter,” Scaglione said.
He told the Palm Beach station that he began walking slowly back to his gate but that when he went to close it, the otter unleashed its attack, causing him to fall. The otter bit him across his hands, legs and arms a staggering 41 times.
“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.
Scaglione was able to get away, but later that day the 3-year-old otter reportedly terrorized a neighbor’s dog, which was with a couple and their baby.
Some quick-thinking residents from the neighborhood were able to capture the animal by covering it with a recycling bin until authorities arrived.
The otter tested positive for rabies and was euthanized, health officials said Monday in a news release.
The crazed critter likely contracted rabies from an infected raccoon, according to Capt. David Walesky, the assistant director of Palm Beach County Animal Care and Control, WPBF reported.
“We captured the animal. We were able to secure it, get it here in our facility. From there, sample is collected, then sent to the state laboratory in Jacksonville. Takes a couple days, so on Saturday, the results came back confirmed to be positive,” Walesky said.
Scaglione is being treated for rabies. The dog’s condition is unknown, but the police officer who responded to the scene said the owner took the dog to a veterinarian, according to West Palm Beach TV station WPTV.
Palm Beach County Animal Control said the rabid otter is the first to be reported in the area since 2010.
According to the National Wildlife Federation, adult river otters can grow to 4 feet in length and weigh up to 30 pounds.