Thursday June 15, 2017

Rabid raccoon attacks Maine jogger — so she drowns it

A rabid raccoon (not the one pictured here) recently attacked a Maine jogger.

A rabid raccoon (not the one pictured here) recently attacked a Maine jogger. (Radio-Canada.ca)

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Rachel Borch was on a routine run she will never forget.

"I never thought I could do that. I don't eat animals." -Rachel Borch

In early June, she was jogging through the woods near her home in Hope, Maine. That's when she was attacked by a raccoon. She ended up killing the animal with her bare hands. 

Borch tells As It Happens host Carol Off what happened.

RACHEL BORCH: It was coming at me through a very dense thicket ... and it was like at my feet a few seconds later and I just knew as soon as I saw it that there was something wrong with it because it was clearly charging at me with its teeth bared like i was the target.

CAROL OFF: It was at your feet so what did you do when it got there?

RB: I pulled my headphones out and dropped my phone. I danced around it for a second trying to avoid it biting me. And then I realized, like, it's going to bite me, so I might as well let it bite a part of me that is not as important as like my face or my head. So I put my hands out to protect myself ... I hadn't really figured it out much further than that, other than this animal is going to attack me and at least I'm a human so at least I can overpower it by just being larger ... so I put my hands out and it latched onto my thumb at that point. And I tried to like pry its jaws off and that didn't work. 

CO: And raccoons have very sharp teeth.

RB: Oh yeah, really sharp, like tiny little needles or something. I still have the bite marks on my thumb.

Woman attacked by rabid raccoon

Rachel Borch's thumb after the raccoon attacked her. (Rachel Borch)

CO: I'm sure you do ... so you looked around looking for what to do, and what did you finally figure out?

RB: Well I looked over and noticed my phone was in a puddle. And I made that connection that there was water on the ground ... and that was probably going to be my best bet for killing the raccoon. So I just kind of took my other hand, the one without my thumb in its mouth, and I just pushed its head underwater for what felt like forever. Until it stopped struggling. 

CO: And did it release your thumb at some point in the course of that?

RB:  Well my thumb was in its mouth the entire time. And it was struggling, it was clawing at my arm trying to get me to let go but I wasn't going to. So finally, after a certain point, its arms kind of fell limp to the side. And I realized its probably dead. And now is probably a safe time to run away. So I, like, extricated my thumb from its mouth, bolted out of there because I was still kind of paranoid that it was going to come after me .. .but luckily it was dead by that point.

CO: And as you were running ... what was going through your mind while you were escaping this?

RB: Oh my god it was really just terror and shock. I was in hysterics. I was crying. I wasn't sure if I was going to like become delirious and lose my way along the path or something. But luckily it turns out it's a long, slow onset for rabies to affect humans. And I was able to take care of it. But during that fifteen minutes or so that I had to run back I was just thinking the absolute worse, and I wasn't sure if I was going to make it.

CO: So you've had the treatment?

RB: Yes. I got six shots in the ER that first day. And then I've gotten two more. And I have my last one soon. So a total of nine shots, and they're almost over with.

Maine woman is attacked by rabid raccoon

Rachel Borch poses with her friend's cat, Indi. (Rachel Borch)

CO: Did you think you had it in you to kill an animal with your bare hands?

RB: Oh my God, no ... I never thought I could do that. I don't eat animals and part of the reason for that is because I don't think that I could kill one. But in this situation I just did what I felt needed to be done in that moment. But it's not something that I'd see myself doing in a million years.