Runner Drowns Rabid Raccoon To Save Her Thumb

‘I’ve never killed an animal with my bare hands. I’m a vegetarian.’

rabid raccoon yawning angry
Photo credit: Alan Vernon

Bells, lights, reflective clothing, emergency whistles — runners have a lot of tools to stay safe on trails and in the city. But for one young woman running a familiar path through woods near her home this spring, her best defense was raw primal instinct.

“With my thumb in its mouth, I just pushed its head down into the muck,” Rachel Borch told the Bangor Daily News.

Just moments prior to that gruesome scene, the 21-year-old was wrapping up a leisurely jog less than a mile from her house, when a raccoon came “bounding” up the wooded path baring its teeth.

What happened next was a true tale of woman vs. beast.

Rabid Raccoon Attack

When Borch saw the raccoon charging toward her, she dropped her phone and backed away. But the animal did not relent and quickly overtook her, biting at her legs and feet.

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Borch told the Daily News that she danced around and tried kicking it, before deciding her best chance to subdue it and escape was to use her hands.

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

And bite her it did, engulfing her thumb and digging its teeth into her hand. She shook her hand and beat the raccoon, but it would not release.

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

Looking around frantically, Borch saw her headphones trailing out of a puddle where phone fell, completely submerged.

Acting on instinct, Borch dragged the raccoon in to the puddle, then forced its head under the water.

Belly up, the raccoon clawed fiercely at her arms, but Borch held it under until ““its arms sort of of fell to the side.”

Borch pulled her thumb free and ran home. Her mom rushed her to the hospital, while her dad retrieved the dead raccoon to test it for rabies.

It tested positive and Borch immediately began a course of immunization shots. She has so far received six of the seven shots. She is expected to fully recover. The raccoon, however, was not so lucky.

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Adam Ruggiero is an all-sport activity junkie - from biking, running, and (not enough) surfing, to ball sports, camping, and cattle farming. If it's outside, it's worth doing. Adam graduated from the University of Minnesota with a BA in journalism. Likes: unique beer, dogs, stories. Like nots: neckties, escalators, manicured lawns.

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