HOPE, Maine – A Maine woman remembered thinking about how beautiful the day was as she jogged through the woods, never imagining she would have to fend off a rabid raccoon with her bare hands, according to the Bangor Daily News.
Rachel Borch was running recently along a familiar trail near her home in Hope, a small town south of Bangor, when she saw the animal in the middle of the path, baring its teeth, she told the paper Wednesday.
When the raccoon ran straight for her, Borch said she knew it was rabid. With overgrown bushes on either side of the trail, there was no way to get around it.
“Imagine the Tasmanian devil, it was terrifying,” she told the Bangor Daily News. “I knew it was going to bite me.”
Borch remembered thinking that if she could hold it down on the ground she might have the best chance of defending herself, but as soon as she grabbed it, the raccoon bit down on her thumb.
Crying and screaming as the rabies-infected creature continued to kick and scratch, the 21-year-old saw a puddle on the trail and managed to drag the raccoon to it.
“With my thumb in its mouth, I just pushed its head down into the muck,” Borch said. She held the animal’s head under the water until its movements finally slowed. Then she ran – shoeless and in hysterics – nearly a mile to her house.
Her father collected the animal’s body in an old dog food bag and her mother immediately took Borch to a nearby hospital for an evaluation and a series of shots. The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed that the raccoon’s blood tested positive for rabies, according to WGME.
“She was phenomenal,” Hope Animal Control Officer Heidi Blood told the station. “I don’t know if I would’ve been able to keep my composure and handle the situation the way she did.”
Borch, who is a vegetarian, told the paper that, even though she killed the animal in self defense, she won’t be able to see raccoons as just cute forest creatures anymore.
According to the CDC, the state has tallied 21 cases of rabies this year – 14 raccoons (including the one that attacked Borch), three red foxes and four skunks.
For folks in Utah, WildAwareUtah.org provides information and resources about how to handle encounters with the various animals you might run into in the Beehive State, including raccoons.