Deep in the heart of Hope, Maine, a woman, Rachel Borch, was taking her routine jogs as she does every day in an overgrown trail near her home. As she trekked further along her path she said she was thinking to herself, “What a beautiful day.”
Little did she know what would lay in store for her in just a few moments from that pleasant thought. Just as she had began to appreciate the glorious outdoor weather a rabid raccoon appeared out of nowhere.
She said it began growling and flashing razor sharp teeth at her and in her own words it began “bounding” towards her with fury in it's eyes and foam coming from it's mouth. She said, “I knew instantly it had to be rabid.”
She recalled tearing the headphones out of her ears and then juggling with her phone to put into her pocket as the foul beast soon approached striking distance. She ended up dropping her phone during the tumultuous moment of fear.
Within the hair of a few seconds she said the creature was at her feet and she began to “dance around it” debating on what her next move would be. “Imagine the Tasmanian devil,” she said. “It was terrifying.”
As adrenaline was released into her body and her heart was beating faster she looked around for an exit to no avail as the monstrous creature had blocked the trail with the intent to attack her. She knew she had to act first or she was going to become lunch to the enraged mammal.
The Raccoon then proceeded to bite Rachel, and she said “I knew it was going to bite me.” It sank it's sharpened fangs into her thumb and wouldn't release it's death grasp so she had an ultimatum of suffering more injury or fighting back.
She tried to shake off the beast but it's claws and hind legs were scratching and tearing at her body. She then began to swing it around and it still hadn't released its vicious clamp onto her hand.
As she was struggling with the beast she looked beside her where her phone had landed in a puddle. She knew then she had to act. Out of primal instinct she flung the creature downward into the puddle and submerged it's head.
She said “I didn’t think I could strangle the raccoon with my bare hands.” So she fiercely fought back and forced the rabid creature to meet it's fate by drowning it in the puddle. “With my thumb in its mouth, I just pushed its head down into the muck,” Borch said.
She claimed the raccoon still hadn't released it's bite even while it was being drowned. On her knees during the altercation it was still scratching her and trying to attack even whilst beneath the murky collection of rainwater deep in the puddle.
Miss Borch said that she had to hold it there for “what felt like an eternity” until finally it ended it’s relentless struggling, and “its arms sort of of fell to the side, its chest still heaving really slowly.” She then stated she had to pry her thumb free from the mouth of beast and began hyperventilating with stress.
She took a moment to clear her head saying “and then I just bolted as fast as I could through the underbrush” fleeing the scene of the terror filled incident. She was three quarters of a mile from her home and her shoes were soaked so she kept running barefoot until she arrived.
She stated she was in such shock she keep looking back it see if it was chasing her. “It felt like [Stephen King’s] ‘Pet Sematary” she said. Now fearing that the rabies the beast may have had could have been transmitted to her.
“Oh, God, what if I just start foaming at the mouth and can’t find my way back?” she said to herself. She met with her mother Elizabeth at home and the two together immediately drove to Pen Bay Medical Center for evaluations.
Borch’s father then went to the scene and retrieved the dead animal to hand over to Animal Control. Hope Animal Control Officer Heidi Blood confirmed Wednesday after tests on the dead raccoon by the Maine Center for Disease Control it in fact was positive for rabies.
Heidi Blood stated, “Not to scare people but when there’s one infected there’s typically another.”
She went on to say “It’s important to let folks know that just because there’s one infected raccoon and it’s gone now, doesn’t mean the risk still isn’t there.”
Rachel Borch has been given the rabies vaccine, and immunoglobulin and tetanus injections. She is slated to receive her final injection this weekend, as the treatment for rabies is a multiple visit process.
Borch went on to say in closing “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.”
When asked if she had any advice for others who may encounter rabid animals Rachel Borch said no she didn't, but added “I always thought of raccoons as this cute, cuddly forest animal, she said. “I just will never look at them the same way.”