This Girl Drowned A Rabid Raccoon With Her Bare Hands, What Did You Do Today?

by Meredith Bland

Woman thinks on her feet to survive raccoon attack

You know those days when you’re feeling really proud of yourself because you got up on time, put on real clothes, got your kids to school, went for a jog, murdered a rabid raccoon with your bare hands, and then picked the kids up and had a well-balanced dinner together? No? It’s the raccoon part that’s throwing you off, isn’t it? Well, that’s what one Maine woman did recently when she was attacked on a local trail.

Rachel Borch, 21, went jogging on June 2nd near her home in Hope, Maine (that’s “Hope” as in “Hope you don’t get attacked by a rabid raccoon.”) It was a beautiful day and Borch was enjoying her run. But, as the Bangor Daily News put it: “Little did she know she was about to be attacked by a rabid raccoon she would end up killing with her bare hands.” If she had known, we’re assuming she would have put on pants. Or at least brought a very heavy stick. Or maybe not gone jogging at all.

According to Borch, the animal blocked the path, bared its teeth, and started “bounding” toward her, a word that is much more terrifying than “running” because bounding involves leaping and that’s too close to a flying rabid raccoon and those are facts.

Borch says she knew immediately that it was rabid, and began “dancing around it,” trying to get away. “Imagine the Tasmanian devil,” she said. “It was terrifying.” Done, and agreed.

Borch knew she wasn’t going to be able to outrun the animal, and decided that her best way to avoid serious injury was to grab it and hold it down with her hands. And That. Girl. Did. That.

The raccoon bit down on her thumb and started scratching her with its legs. Unable to get the animal to release her thumb, Borch noticed her cellphone on the ground nearby. She had dropped it during the attack and it had landed in a puddle. Borch’s survival instincts had a lightbulb moment: instead of fighting a losing battle to strangle it, she would try to drown the raccoon.

She dragged it to the puddle and “with my thumb in its mouth, I just pushed its head down into the muck.” Eventually, the raccoon stopped fighting: “its arms sort of fell to the side, its chest still heaving really slowly.” That’s when Borch made tracks. She kicked off her soaking wet sneakers and ran the three-quarters of a mile back to her house, where her mother immediately took her to the hospital. Her father bagged up the dead animal and took it to the Maine Center for Disease Control where it tested positive for rabies.

Borch is almost done with the series of seven shots needed after an exposure to rabies, which, said Hope Animal Control Officer Heidi Blood to the Bangor Daily News, “is 100% fatal” if not treated. Blood also put out a warning to local residents, saying, “Not to scare people, but when there’s one [infected], there’s typically another.” (Note to Maine residents: Google “indoor summer projects with kids” and “staycations so perfect you’ll never leave the house.”)

Borch is still surprised by what she was able to do to survive: “If there hadn’t been water on the ground, I don’t know what I would have done. It really was just dumb luck. I’ve never killed an animal with my bare hands. I’m a vegetarian. It was self-defense.”