Zombie dog? Coyote? Mystery animal seen in cemetery

Zombie dog or mangy fox? (Merrimack Police Department)

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — Police in New Hampshire say a macabre mammal spotted in a town cemetery is likely a mangy fox — not a "zombie dog" or mythical beast as some have speculated.

A photo taken this week by the Merrimack Police Chief Mark Doyle and posted on Facebook attracted much speculation about the nearly hairless brown animal with a long tail and square jaw. Many guessed it was a rabid coyote, or perhaps a chupacabra, a purported gargoyle-like creature that drains the blood of goats and other victims. Others suspected a hoax.

"I believe the correct name for this critter is Photoshopicus compositus," one person joked.

Lt. Matthew Tarleton acknowledges the animal looks "like something out of a horror movie," but said a game officer believes it is a fox afflicted with mange.

"It's no mythical beast. It's no exotic pet that escaped from someone's condo and is now terrorizing the neighborhood. It's nothing like that at all," he said. "It's most likely a sick fox."

Police were called about the animal Tuesday morning. The police chief happened to be nearby and took a picture. Tarleton arrived in time to see it trotting into the woods.

"It definitely looked sick," he said Thursday.

Tarleton said anyone who sees it should call police, who will decide whether it should be killed.

"I know some people have suggested that we nurse it back to good health, but it's not realistic," he said. "For an animal this sick, it probably needs to be put down."