Confronted on a trail she traverses often near her home in Hope, Maine, Rachel Borch was faced with an evil not many have had to endure. Appreciating the scenery that is the New England countryside, Borch was stopped dead in her tracks by a would-be attacker.
Rumored to have weighed in at between 15 and 20 pounds, her attacker wore a mask and brandished a mouth full of weapons.
Standing in the middle of a narrow foot path was her attacker; a disgruntled raccoon, baring its teeth at the surprised but seemingly battle-ready victim. Removing her earphones and dropping her phone, Borch recalls the moment she knew the animal she was about to face was not of the right mind.
“I knew instantly it had to be rabid,” she told Bangor Daily News.
As the animal began to bound toward her, the pair danced around like a pair of heavyweight fighters who had just entered the ring. As the animal made the first move, approaching the jogger with the intent to harm her, Borch knew she was inevitably bound to defend herself.
“I knew it was going to bite me,” she said.
As the path was far too narrow to pass by the charging creature, she opted to grab the animal in an attempt to hold it down and let the animal latch on. The raccoon took the opportunity graciously, sinking its teeth into her thumb and clamping down like a fish on a hook.
As the moments leading up to the altercation flashed through her mind, she was reminded of the puddle she had dropped her phone into. Thinking she would be unable to strangle the animal with her bare hands, her instincts led her to submerge the animal as best she could in the muddy depths of the puddle that had already claimed her phone.
“With my thumb in its mouth, I just pushed its head down into the muck,” Borch said.
After a few tense moments up to her elbows in rainwater and mud, the raccoon was lifeless. As she released her thumb from the jaws of the animal, the victim bolted back to her home where she met her mother and filled her in on what had just happened.
Seeking medical assistance, Borch and her mother headed for the Pen Bay Medical Center where she was treated for her injuries.
After her father delivered the carcass of the embattled raccoon in a Taste of the Wild dog food bag to the Main Warden Service, tests by the Maine Center for Disease Control later confirmed the animal was indeed rabid.
Receiving treatment in the form of seven shots including the rabies vaccine, Borch is doing just fine. Recounting the event, she stated that she is unsure what she would have done had the puddle of water not been close by.
“If there hadn’t been water on the ground, I don’t know what I would have done,” Borch recalled. “It really was just dumb luck. I’ve never killed an animal with my bare hands. I’m a vegetarian. It was self-defense.”
According to Maine officials, this was the 20th case of rabid animals in the Pine Tree State which includes a roster of red foxes, skunks, and of course, raccoons.