Thursday, June 15, 2017

American Women, Maine Edition

From The Bangor Daily News comes this tale of a vegetarian in the woods:

Maine Woman Attacked by Raccoon Drowns Rabid Animal in Puddle

By Alex Acquisto :: June 14, 2017

HOPE, Maine — While jogging on a familiar, overgrown, wooded trail near her home on a recent warm afternoon, Rachel Borch thought to herself. “What a beautiful day.”

Little did she know she was about to be attacked by a rabid raccoon that she would end up killing with her bare hands.

In the midst of appreciating the weather and scenery, she looked ahead of her and noticed a raccoon obstructing the narrow foot path, baring its tiny teeth.

Suddenly, it began “bounding” toward her, Borch recalled Wednesday afternoon during an interview at her home on Hatchet Mountain Road in Hope.

“I knew instantly it had to be rabid,” said Borch, who remembers ripping out her headphones and dropping her phone on the ground.

What felt like a split second later, the furry animal was at her feet. Borch recalled “dancing around it,” trying to figure out what to do.

“Imagine the Tasmanian devil,” she said. “It was terrifying.”

The path was too narrow for Borch to run past the raccoon, which had begun lunging at her. With adrenaline pumping, Borch suspended her disbelief.June 14, 2017

“I knew it was going to bite me,” she said.

Figuring that she would have the greatest ability to defend herself if she used her hands to hold it down, she decided that would probably be the best place for the aggressive animal to latch onto.

The raccoon sank its teeth into Borch’s thumb and “wouldn’t let go.” Its paws were scratching her arms and legs wildly as Borch screamed and cried.

In a matter of seconds, Borch, who could not unhinge the raccoon’s jaw to shake it off her hand, noticed that when she had dropped her phone, it had fallen into a puddle in the path and was fully submerged.

“I didn’t think I could strangle [the raccoon] with my bare hands,” she remembers thinking, but holding it under the water might do the trick.

Connecting the dots quickly, Borch, then on her knees, dragged the still biting raccoon, which was now scratching frantically at her hand and arms, into the puddle.

“With my thumb in its mouth, I just pushed its head down into the muck,” Borch said.

With the animal belly-up, she held its head under water. “It was still struggling and clawing at my arms, [and] it wouldn’t let go of my thumb,” she said.

Borch said she held it there for what felt like an eternity until finally it stopped struggling, and “its arms sort of of fell to the side, its chest still heaving really slowly.”

Hyperventilating and in hysterics, she pulled her thumb out of the raccoon’s mouth, “and then I just bolted as fast as I could through the underbrush,” she said.

Borch remembers looking back once to see if the raccoon had started chasing her again.

“It felt like [Stephen King’s] ‘Pet Sematary,’” she said.

Kicking her shoes off because they were soaked, Borch ran the three-quarters of a mile home to her house.

Borch, who was screaming and unsure of how rabies affects humans, remembers thinking, “Oh, God, what if I just start foaming at the mouth and can’t find my way back?”

She met her mother, Elizabeth, at home, and together they drove immediately to Pen Bay Medical Center.

The dead raccoon was retrieved by Borch’s dad, who packed it into a Taste of the Wild dog food bag and handed it over to the Maine Warden Service.

Hope Animal Control Officer Heidi Blood confirmed Wednesday that the dead raccoon later tested positive for rabies by the Maine Center for Disease Control.

“Not to scare people,” Blood said, but “when there’s one [infected], there’s typically another.”

Pro-tip with raccoons: use your feet and stand on them to pin them to the ground. Your weight will suffocate them. That said, it's always best to pack the dead animal away in a "Taste of the Wild" dog food bag. Bonus points for that!

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