WESTERLY, R.I. (WPRI) – Three people were bitten by an animal at a Westerly Walmart on the Fourth of July, the Department of Health confirmed. Two were customers and one was an employee.
Authorities say they think it was a small rodent but do not know specifically – because the animal was released before anyone knew it attacked three people.
“It could have been a ferret, it could have been a weasel,” said Joseph Wendelken of the Department of Health. “We’re not exactly sure what kind of animal it was.”
The DOH said they can’t test the animal for rabies because the officer who captured it did not know it attacked three people.
“The officer actually let the animal go. It wasn’t until after the fact that reports surfaced that people had been bitten,” said Wendelken.
Walmart said this is the first time something like this has happened in one of their stores. They said they’re still trying to identify one of the customers who was bitten.
The DOH said this situation is a reminder that you should always report animal bites.
They’re hoping that the bitten customer comes forward soon so that they can be tested and treated for rabies.
If anyone else came in contact with that animal they should contact authorities as soon as possible.