An animal lover and a vegetarian, Rachel Borch would have never dreamed of killing a raccoon, until she had to. And she did it with her bare hands.
She looked up to see a fuzzy little raccoon on the narrow pathway baring its teeth at her. Then it charged.
“I knew instantly it had to be rabid,” Borch said.
The raccoon was suddenly at her feet and Borch was dancing around it trying to figure out what to do.
“Imagine the Tasmanian devil,” she said. “It was terrifying.”
She said the path was too narrow to run by it and she knew it was inevitable that the raccoon was going to bite her.
She figured she'd best be able to defend herself if she held the angry animal down with her hands and that's when the raccoon sank its teeth into her thumb. It scratched her arms and legs wildly with his claws as the terrified woman screamed and cried.
Borch, who could not free herself from the raccoon's attack, noticed that her cell phone had fallen into a puddle on the pathway.
“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.
Borch, then on her knees, dragged the raccoon, which was still latched on to her thumb and 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.
She held its head under water. “It was still struggling and clawing at my arms. It wouldn’t let go of my thumb,” she said.
Borch said she held it under water for what felt like an eternity until it finally stopped struggling and “its arms sort of of fell to the side, its chest still heaving really slowly.”
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 kicked her soaked shoes off and ran the three-quarters of a mile home to her house.
Screaming, scared and unsure of how rabies affects humans, Borch 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 they drove immediately to Pen Bay Medical Center.
Borch's dad retreived the dead raccoon and turned it over to the Maine Warden Service. The raccoon was tested for rabies and the test came back positive.
Borch has received six shots so far, including the rabies vaccination, immunoglobulin and tetanus injections. She will receive her last injection this weekend.
When left untreated, rabies is fatal.
Although Borch should recover physically from the attack, she'll no doubt be left with the mental scars.
“If there hadn’t been water on the ground, I don’t know what I would have done,” Borch said of drowning the animal. “It really was just dumb luck. I’ve never killed an animal with my bare hands. I’m a vegetarian. It was self-defense.”
Borch said she always thought of raccoons as cute, cuddly forest animals, but she will never think of them the same again.
Have you ever encountered a rabid animal?