KISSIMMEE, Fla. — Osceola County Animal Control is canvassing the area around the Emerald Isle Resort for coyotes after three people encountered one Wednesday that turned out to be rabid.

Sun Key Place resident Tom O'Donnell called coming out into his yard and seeing a coyote with his jaws locked on his wife's leg Wednesday "surreal."

But before the coyote attacked O’Donnell's wife, it first jumped at a man walking on the sidewalk of the nearby Emerald Isle Resort. Surveillance video from the resort showed the man trying to shoo away the animal and ultimately kicking it when it wouldn't go away. 

Later, the coyote bit O’Donnell’s neighbor in the calf and then his wife. 

“The thing was chewing on its paws to the point that they were bleeding, and I am like, 'A normal animal I don't think will be doing that,' ” O’Donnell said. “But he was literally bleeding from his paws because he was chewing on them so much, so I figured his brain was fried from rabies.”

O’Donnell was able to pull the coyote off his wife’s leg, and with the help of his brother-in-law, they roped it up and shoved it in a cage. O’Donnell took pictures of the animal before Animal Control arrived on scene. The coyote later died.

In its jaws you can still see a piece of clothing from the jeans O’Donnell’s wife was wearing.

Taking precautions

O’Donnell said his wife had to get a series of vaccinations for preventative measures. Now they’re being more cautious, and Osceola County suggests other residents do the same. 

“There are precautions people can take to minimize the chances for domestic animals and wildlife interactions” said Kim Staten the director of Osceola County Animal Services. “But the most important thing is to make sure pets are currently vaccinated.” 

“From now on, if we go in the yard, you have to mind your surroundings — you can't have your back to the woods,” O’Donnell said. “'Our neighbor that got bit, he was in the same position — he was sweeping on his back porch, and his back was to the woods, so neither one of them saw it coming.”

The Osceola County Health Department also offered the following suggestions:

  • Keep your pets under direct supervision so they do not come in contact with wild animals. If your pet is bitten by a wild animal, seek veterinary assistance for the animal immediately and contact Osceola Animal Services at 407-742-8000 or Environmental Health at 407-742-8606.
  • Call your local animal control agency to remove any stray animals from your neighborhood.
  • Do not handle, feed, or unintentionally attract wild animals with open garbage cans or litter.
  • Never adopt wild animals or bring them into your home.
  • Teach children never to handle unfamiliar animals, wild or domestic, even if they appear friendly.

Resort management said they want to protect wildlife but at the same time make sure guests and homeowners are safe, so they’ve posted warning signs.