Being forced to kill an animal raccoon with your bare hands isn’t generally what people expect to be forced to do when they go out on a jog. It certainly wasn’t a thought that crossed Rachel Borch’s mind when she went for a run in a wooded area near her home in Hope, Maine.
It certainly wasn’t a thought that crossed Rachel Borch’s mind when she went for a run in a wooded area near her home in Hope, Maine. Little did she know, but she would soon live out one of the most bizarre jogging incidents of all time.
Borch noticed a raccoon bearing its teeth in the middle of the trail she was running on. Before she had time to process what was happening, the rabid animal started sprinting toward her as pulled off her earphones and dropped her phone.
“I knew instantly it had to be rabid,” said Borch.
“Imagine the Tasmanian devil,” she said. “It was terrifying. I knew it was going to bite me.”
Since she wasn’t able to get past the raccoon because of a narrow path, she decided that since she was about to get bitten either way she would grab it to keep control of it. The raccoon bit into her thumb and wouldn’t let go.
It was at this time that she noticed her phone had fallen into a fairly deep puddle.
“I didn’t think I could strangle [the raccoon] with my bare hands,” she thought, but maybe she could drown it.
“With my thumb in its mouth, I just pushed its head down into the muck.”
It clawed at her arms, but it refused to unlatch its mouth from her thumb. After holding it down for a long period of time it finally stopped struggling and went limp.
In a state of adrenaline-fueled panic, Borch kicked off her waterlogged shoes and bolted home. She was looking back to make sure the raccoon hadn’t started chasing her.
“It felt like [Stephen King’s] ‘Pet Sematary,’” she said.
Her mother, Elizabeth, was at home when she came running up and took her to Pen Bay Medical Center. Her father went on to collect the dead raccoon to take to the Maine Warden Service.
The raccoon ended up testing positive for rabies.
“Not to scare people,” Heidi Blood with Hope Animal Control said, but “when there’s one [infected], there’s typically another.”
Symptoms usually show up in infected animals in two weeks, while humans can exhibit symptoms in a few weeks to a few months.
“It’s scary stuff,” Blood said. “The No. 1 thing we try to remind people of is that it’s 100 percent fatal [if it goes untreated].”
“If there hadn’t been water on the ground, I don’t know what I would have done,” Borch said. “It really was just dumb luck. I’ve never killed an animal with my bare hands. I’m a vegetarian. It was self-defense.”
She has received six shots so far, including the rabies vaccine, and immunoglobulin and tetanus shots. Her last injection is set for later this week.
Borch may have killed this raccoon in one of the most insane ways possible, but that doesn’t mean she has any advice for others who come across a rabid animal that attacks.
“I always thought of raccoons as this cute, cuddly forest animal,” she said. “I just will never look at them the same way.”
That’s nature for you.