PLAINVILLE – A week of intense cleaning brought sweet spring aromas back to the Fred and Kathy Adam home near Plainville following a May Day visit by an angry skunk.

Kathy Adam was playing on the living room floor with her 6-month-old granddaughter on May 1 when Fred Adam entered the house between 8:30 and 9 p.m. He left the door ajar in case their dog, a Chihuahua, needed to go outside.

Instead, a skunk they believe was rabid entered the house and bolted toward Kathy.

“It literally grabbed ahold of my wife’s leg. I had to kick it off,” Fred Adam said.

They heard something push on the door, and then the excitement began.

“I heard, ‘Pa-dump, pa-dump.’ I rolled over and was eye-to-eye with that skunk,” Kathy Adam said. “That was so scary.”

She immediately shielded the baby, who by then was “hysterical.”

After the skunk unlatched from Kathy’s left leg, leaving a couple of puncture wounds, Fred reached for a blanket to drape the animal.

But he didn’t react in time. The skunk raised its tail and showered Fred and portions of the home interior with its gut-wrenching potion.

Fred reached through the blanket and grabbed the skunk by its neck.

“I got it out right away,” Fred said.

He wasn’t bitten, and neither was their granddaughter, whom they didn’t name.

After the granddaughter’s parents came to get her, Fred drove his wife to the emergency department at Rooks County Health Center.

Rabies shots started

Because the wild animal ran away, they weren’t sure if it was infected, so as a precaution, doctors started Kathy on the rabies shots. Her fourth and final injection will be given on Friday.

“I wasn’t going to take any chances,” Kathy said.

When she was being bitten, Kathy said, “I observed a wet sensation, like the mouth was foaming.”

The shots weren’t as painful as doctors warned, she said.

Fred wasn’t sure how much their health insurance would cover of the series of injections, which cost $5,000.

The ‘eau de pew’

Wreaking of skunk stench, Fred didn’t enter the hospital with his wife. The odor prompted quick action.

Fred first bathed in tomato juice and vinegar, which didn’t help much. A friend recommended equal parts of Dawn dishwashing liquid, vinegar and baking soda, and that recipe was more effective.

The Adam home a couple of miles from Plainville was heavy in eau de pew. They hired a firm from Hays to air out the house, and chemicals were used to neutralize the smell. After three days, the inside was fogged.

Carpet was pulled up and discarded, along with some upholstered furniture and some wood trim.

“We gutted the room,” Fred said.

Some items smelled better after they’d been placed outside in sunlight, Kathy said.

“I’ve been washing walls and curtains, scrubbing everything down with that (Dawn-based) solution,” Kathy said. “I get a little hint of skunk every once in a while. We’re at least able to live in here.”

Other skunks test positive

The hospital alerted law enforcement of the experience. Officers have been spreading the word to be careful, and telling people to make sure pets are current on their rabies vaccinations.

“Just be cautious about leaving the door open, even ajar,” Fred Adam said.

Two skunks caught and killed in Plainville within the past couple of months have tested positive for rabies, Police Chief Troy Rudman said.

The skunk that invaded the Adam house was outside the city limits, he said.

The city is “letting people know, by word of mouth,” about rabid skunks, Rudman said, and several of the wild animals have been trapped in the city limits.

Tim Unruh is a veteran ag reporter at the Salina Journal. To contact Tim, email