HARTLAND, Maine — Eric Fox loved his dog Hunter, who had lived with the Fox family for several years.
A few weeks ago, Fox bent over to kiss the dog. Hunter, a chow mix, curled his lip a little, as he was known to do occasionally. Then tragedy struck. Hunter bit Fox on the face.
“The dog just muckled right onto him and kind of shook back and forth really hard,” said Karla Riggs, who is Fox’s sister. “It pretty much ripped his nose and upper lip right off.”
Fox, who has lived in the Hartland area all his life, was rushed by ambulance to Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor. He was quickly redirected to a hospital in Boston, where he was flown by LifeFlight helicopter. He stayed there for a week and since has returned numerous times for treatment and reconstructive surgery.
The dog bite was the latest occurrence in a string of bad luck for the family. Fox and his wife, Roxanne, both were laid off last August from Moss Inc. in Belfast. When they lost their jobs, they also lost their health insurance.
“He worked there for 15 years,” said Riggs. “He had health insurance the whole time and barely had to use it.”
The attack happened on a Saturday night. The next Tuesday morning, a $16,000 bill arrived in the mail for the helicopter ride from Bangor to Boston. It was the first of thousands of dollars in medical expenses the Fox family can’t afford. To help, Riggs has distributed collection cans around Hartland and organized a benefit dinner for Fox at 5 p.m. this Saturday at Somerset Valley Middle School in Hartland.
“We’ve had a pretty good response [to the collection cans],” said Riggs. “I went around and collected from them on Wednesday so they could get to Boston on Thursday. That’s how broke they are right now.”
Riggs said her brother is more accustomed to helping others than receiving it.
“He’s always done good for people,” said Riggs. “It’s awful hard for him to sit back and not be able to do anything. He’s very appreciative of all the help.”
Not the least of Fox’s grief is the loss of Hunter, who was euthanized after the attack.
“He’s pretty bummed about that,” said Riggs.
To help the Fox family with living and medical expenses, send checks to Eric Fox, 59 Blake St., Hartland 04943.