8News Exclusive: Woman Describes Fighting Off Rabid Raccoon At Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Henrico officials want to warn residents after a case of rabies was confirmed Tuesday.

Authorities say that on Saturday, Henrico Animal Protection Police responded to the 1800 block of Lakeside Avenue for an animal-related call for service. The caller told police that she had been attacked by a raccoon while walking through Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens.

“Well I was walking on a back road at the Botanical Gardens and I think I was looking up at the trees at birds and all of a sudden I look down and right in front of me within feet was a raccoon. It lunged at my pant leg, um, nicked my left knee. It was very aggressive and — if I had thrown it off it would have come after me and I couldn’t have gotten away from it. I think it probably would have torn me up pretty badly,” the victim said to 8News in an exclusive interview.

The raccoon ran out of the woods near the path where she was walking and began to scratch and claw her leg. The raccoon then bit her leg.

“I grabbed a hold of it’s neck. Yeah and that was the end of it five minutes later,” she said. “I choked him to death. It took me awhile to realize what I’d done because I’m an animal lover I didn’t want to kill anything, made me sad.”

Police said the victim fought off the raccoon, which later died from its injuries. The raccoon’s remains were submitted to the Virginia Division of Consolidated Laboratory Services for testing, where it was determined that the raccoon was the first confirmed positive rabies case for Henrico County in 2015.

The victim was transported to a local hospital for treatment of her injuries.

Henrico Police Animal Protection wants to take the opportunity to remind everyone to be sure to keep pets’ rabies vaccinations current to ensure the safety of their pets and our community. The Henrico Health District strongly advises that people take the following steps to prevent families and pets from being exposed to rabies:

  • Vaccinate all cats, dogs and ferrets against rabies and keep them up to date!
  • Avoid contact with wild animals or stray cats and dogs.
  • Do not feed wild animals or stray cats and dogs.
  • Report stray animals to your local animal control agency.
  • Eliminate outdoor food sources around the home.
  • Keep pets confined to your property or walk them on a leash.
  • If you see ill or injured wildlife, call a licensed wildlife rehabilitator for advice on how to proceed.

The Virginia Department of Health asks any resident in this area who may have been exposed or has pets that may have been exposed to this rabid raccoon to immediately notify the Henrico Health Department at 804-501-4529 or the Henrico County Animal Control Office at 804-501-5000.

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