Rabid Raccoon Bites 79-Year-Old Berlin Resident

The deep, jagged bite marks left on Herbert Speer's leg are a frightening reminder of what took place early Friday morning and how lucky he is.

The 79-year-old was cleaning up in his garage unaware of what lurked just feet away underneath his son's pickup.

"There was this gosh awful scream, and it scared me," said Speer. "By the time I got to the back of the truck it came out from under the truck and nailed me right in the leg."

Speer found himself fighting off a 30-pound raccoon, and after kicking it off Speer says it launched itself at him again and gripped on, refusing to let go.

Causing deep cuts to his hands, Speer says he pried the animal's jaws apart and threw it.

"It came back at me this time, and I happened to see my grandson's wiffle bat, and I hit it," said Speer. "I think I stunned it, and it walked out the garage and across the front lawn."

"The first thing I thought to do is you have to get the raccoon. I've got to capture it and euthanize and test it," said Berlin Assistant Animal Control Officer Kate Murdock.

With Speer being treated, animal control captured the vicious raccoon and tests came back positive for rabies.

Speer says he's always feared being bit by a rabid animal, but looking back, he's grateful he was the one in the garage that morning.

"I've got two young grandchildren. They're here all the time. It could have been them," said Speer.

The Central Connecticut Heath District issued a statement on Monday, warning that rabies can be deadly in humans and any mammal can get rabies, whether wild or domesticated.

If you notice any animal acting strangely in your neighborhood, call your local animal control officer for assistance.

Signs of possible rabies infection in animals include:

  • Shyness of a normally friendly pet
  • Wild animals acting fearlessness of humans
  • Uncharacteristic excitability, aggressiveness, or restlessness
  • Sudden mood changes
  • Excessive drooling
  • Abnormal activity during the time of day the animal is usually inactive
  • Eating substances that are not normally eaten
  • Paralysis
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