An 8-year-old New Jersey girl recovers after she is attacked by a fox while on a date playing with friend blocks from her home. He heard a young man playing basketball near his call for help and threw a fox ball to interfere with it.
The girl, Dylan Dratch, was standing in a river behind a friend with a little girl a few blocks from her home in Livingston, about 19 miles from Manhattan, when she met the fox 4:45 a.m. Wednesday.
Dylan, who is celebrating his birthday July 19, said on Friday that he thought he was dreaming, but the fox quickly started bending over his feet.
That was when he started shouting.
Matthew Nichter, 20, who lives next door to where the attack took place, is playing basketball with his neighbor’s three children in their yard.
“We heard crying,” he said in a telephone interview on Friday. “I ran back there, still holding the basketball I was playing.”
Nichter sprinted at Dylan being attacked by the fox.
“I threw away basketball as a form of distraction and chased it,” he said. “Dylan broke up.”
Nichter said he followed the fox – a short distance – until it left the property.
“I went back to the riverbank and took Dylan,” he said, adding that he tried to calm him down. “She was scared, crying and her feet were really bloody.”
He said he tried his best to comfort Dylan by telling him that his parents, an ambulance and police were on the road.
Dylan was taken to a hospital where his mother, Stacey, said he would be given first in what was likely a series of rabies shots, as well as an epinephrine shot because he was allergic to canines. .
Dylan held 19 punches to his feet and legs, his mother said.
“She has a lot of bruising all over her ankles,” Stacey Dratch said in an interview on Friday. “The fox left an imprint of his mouth on the back of his legs.”
This is the first time a fox has attacked a man in town in more than 31 years, Livingston Police Chief Gary Marshuetz said.
“Police said either Dylan accidentally contacted his den or the fox was rabid,” Dratch, 45, said.
The chief of police said Friday, “The Fish and Wildlife Division is actively helping us trap the animal.”
Dratch said he was surprised to learn that Dylan had been attacked by a fox.
“This is not a call that anyone wants,” he said.
Despite her fears and anxieties, when she arrives at Dylan, she must remain calm to comfort him. Dylan is the youngest of three children. He had two brothers, who told him they were proud of how brave he was.
Dylan said he considers Nichter a lifesaver. Dratch believes he is a god.
Nichter does not consider himself a hero.
“It was really sweet and I appreciate that they felt that way,” he said. “I’m just glad I helped and was in the right place at the right time.”
He said he acted naturally.
“I am really happy that he is OK,” he added. “It could have been worse.”