Coyote that attacked girl had rabies

The coyote that lunged at and bit a 5-year-old girl at Carroll Park in Thornwood Sunday evening has tested positive for rabies.

An off-duty cop enjoying the Westchester County park with his family saved the girl by subduing the animal with his bare hands.

Arcangelo Liberatore, of the Irvington Police Department, saw a coyote come out of the woods at the park. He and his wife then hurried to get their children to safety when he heard screaming.

Liberatore went back into the park and saw the coyote attacking the 5-year-old girl. Kasey King-Petrellese, the girl's mother, said she kicked the coyote as hard as she could and punched it several times. Liberatore then jumped on it, grabbed its neck, and slammed its head into the ground.

The girl, her three-year-old brother and mother ran to the car.

"I didn't yell at it but mommy tried to spook him," said Natalia Petrellese.

A Mount Pleasant police officer shot the coyote.

"I'm happy she is ok," said Liberatore.

Everyone who came into contact with the animal, or its saliva, is being evaluated to determine the need for preventive rabies treatment.

“If a coyote approaches, make noise and try to avoid it,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Sherlita Amler.  “If it appears aggressive or lethargic, it could have rabies, so contact local police. Avoid contact with strays and other wildlife.”