Rachel Borch was jogging near her home in Maine when a raccoon appeared on the narrow footpath ahead of her, blocking the way. The critter was baring its teeth, and her instincts told her it was rabid.
In an instant, the raccoon was lunging at her, and she began dancing around while trying to figure on what to do next, according to the Bangor Daily News.
"Imagine the Tasmanian devil," the 21-year-old told the BDN. "It was terrifying…
"I knew it was going to bite me."
Some commenters on the BDN post believed she should have turned around and ran from the raccoon, but Borch refuted that idea.
"I assure you I couldn’t have outrun it," she wrote. "The trail was so overgrown I had to stop at various times to push through thickets, and I have the scratches to prove it. The raccoon meanwhile had the advantage of being small enough to crawl under the brush. If you had been there I’m sure you would quickly realize that flight was not an option."
Instead, she thought using her hands to hold it down was the best way to defend herself, and that's when the raccoon latched onto her thumb and "wouldn't let go."
She screamed and cried out as the raccoon's paws scratched her arms and legs. The raccoon's teeth were like a bear trap on her thumb.
"I didn't think I could strangle [the raccoon] with my bare hands," she told DBN.
But she remembered a puddle of water nearby when she dropped her phone and thought maybe she could drown it.
"With my thumb in its mouth, I just pushed its head down into the muck," Borch said. "It was still struggling and clawing at my arms. It wouldn't let go of my thumb."
Eventually, the raccoon succumbed by drowning. Borch pulled her thumb free and ran for help, looking back once to see if the raccoon was chasing her.
"It felt like [Stephen King's] 'Pet Sematary,'" she said.
Borch's mother immediately took her to the Pen Bay Medical Center for treatment. Her father retrieved the dead raccoon and delivered it to the Maine Warden Service. Test results confirmed Wednesday that the raccoon had rabies. Borch's last rabies shot is this weekend.
"If there hadn't been water on the ground, I don't know what I would have done," Borch told BDN. "It really was just dumb luck. I've never killed an animal with my bare hands. I'm a vegetarian. It was self-defense."
Not surprisingly, Borch has since changed her belief that raccoons are cute and cuddly, saying "I just will never look at them the same way."
Read more about raccoons on GrindTV