Downtown library employee ‘shocked’ after bat attack

Ashley Dowdy, assistant manager of the technology team at the public library downtown, said the bat pictured attacked her while she was setting up for a class Tuesday.

A Charleston County Public Library employee was struck in the forehead by a bat Tuesday. Not a baseball bat. A live bat.

“They surprised each other,” said Jamie Thomas, a spokeswoman for the Calhoun Street library.

Charleston Animal Control responded and removed the bat, which was taken away for testing by the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control, police spokesman Charles Francis said.

Ashley Dowdy, assistant manager of the technology team at the branch, said Tuesday night that she was attacked by the bat while setting up for a class in a normally locked room on the second floor. She added that it’s not the first bat she’s seen in the building, with others dwelling in offices and stairwells.

“I’m just kind of shocked that this happened,” she said. “I think we probably, in the library, need to take care of this.”

Thomas said the library’s maintenance crew is working to find where bat entered the building.

Bats can wreak havoc when they take up residence in structures, but their populations are thought to be declining in the Lowcountry — some species to critical levels. Threats such as white nose syndrome fungus, wind turbine blades and habitat loss have been blamed, biologists have told The Post and Courier.

Dowdy said she had been in the room for a bit when “all of a sudden there’s a bat on my face.” She said it scratched her forehead and used the bathroom on her.

The library employee of just over a year and a half said she filled out an incident report after the attack and then went to the doctor, where she was given a rabies shot. They’ll find out Thursday if the bat was rabid, she added.

Reach Melissa Boughton at 843-937-5594 or at Twitter.com/mboughtonPC.