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Rita Sweenor knocked on Sharon and Ennio Ruggi’s door Thursday with exciting news. It was the first time they had seen her since she was brutally attacked by a coyote on Aug. 16, 2017.

Sweenor, 65, told the Ruggis that the story of the coyote attack, which they helped Sweenor survive, will appear on a television show — Animal Planet’s “I was Prey” — on Sunday at 10 p.m.

The attack took place while Sweenor, who lives in Moreau, was walking near the Five Combines Park on the Feeder Canal in Fort Edward. At 11:30 a.m., the coyote ambushed her and bit her face, an arm and a leg. She had to jump into the canal to get away.

After clambering out of the water, she went looking for help and ended up at the Ruggis’ doorstep, dripping blood.

“When somebody’s pounding on your door and they look like that,” Sweenor said, then paused. “They did great getting me the help.”

On Friday, Sweenor reflected with The Post-Star on her path from recovering her health to anticipating her scene on TV.

“It took me a long time to heal. I had some pretty severe wounds,” she said. “I think the first six months were tough. The healing process, for one, took three or four months.”

Other complications made it difficult for her to return to daily activities. She was treated for rabies, but still, for six months she could not kiss or share food with her husband for fear of infecting him.

“I separated all that kind of stuff just in case I had rabies because I can survive the incident and die of rabies,” she said. “You get rabies, it’s a death sentence.”

She was contacted by Animal Planet through a Facebook message and debated whether to accept it. She watched the show and took them up on the offer. They flew her and her husband down to New York City for one day as they recorded and recalled the events.

Sweenor’s behavior hasn’t changed much after an event that could have killed her.

“My attitude towards life has always been live life now and don’t wait,” she said. “Nobody’s guaranteed tomorrow. So if you want to do something, do it now.”

But when she takes walks now, she tries to bring three things with her: pepper spray, bear spray, and if possible, another person.

“Every time I take a walk, even walking my dog out here, I am always looking for the coyote,” she said. “I go to the mailbox, I am looking under the bushes, under my car. It’s just there, that fear. … It could happen anywhere. Animals get rabid anywhere.”

The show’s start time at 10 p.m. is past her bedtime, but she plans to stay up for it.

“I’ll be right here with pizza and anybody else who wants to come over and watch it,” she said.

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Andrew David Kuczkowski is the education reporter. Andrew can be reached at 518-742-3354. Follow Andrew on Twitter: @ByKuczkowski.



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