During a recent trail run, Hope, Maine resident Rachel Borch encountered a raccoon which she would later drown after it sank its teeth into her hand.

The 21-year-old told the Bangor Daily News that she came upon the raccoon obstructing the single-track “overgrown, wooded” trail ahead. Soon after reaching Borch’s feet, the raccoon began lunging at her, and Borch recalls that the best way to defend herself was to grab the raccoon. As she reached down, the raccoon sunk its teeth into Borch’s thumb.

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“I knew instantly it had to be rabid,” she says, according to the Bangor Daily News on June 14. As the raccoon had its teeth latched to Borch’s thumb, she noticed a nearby puddle. “I didn’t think I could strangle [the raccoon] with my bare hands,” she says.

With the raccoon in her grasp, she forced the medium-sized animal underwater, belly up, before the raccoon’s scratching and squirming lessened. Borch, who had dropped the phone she was carrying into the same puddle, darted off towards home as the raccoon released its grip on her thumb.

Borch’s mother drove her to Pen Bay Medical Center and Borch’s father retrieved the dead raccoon and brought it to Maine Warden Service. The Maine Center for Disease Control confirmed that the raccoon tested positive for rabies, a viral disease that causes inflammation of the brain.

According to Hope Animal Control, Borch was treated for rabies with six shots as of Wednesday.

“I always thought of raccoons as this cute, cuddly forest animal,” she says. “I just will never look at them the same way.”


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