A woman from Hingham, Massachusetts was attacked by a raccoon after she reached out to pet what she thought was her cat while lying in bed on Wednesday. The 73-year-old woman was taken to the hospital with injuries to her face and fingers from fighting the animal off, Hingham Sgt. Stephen Dearth said.
A state lab is testing a sample from the raccoon, which was killed, to determine whether it had rabies. Dearth said police believe the raccoon came into the house through a cat door. He said the woman felt the animal jump on her bed and thought it was her cat when she reached out to pet it. Dearth said the woman called police at around 10:50am after chasing the raccoon out of her bedroom and shutting the door.
While still barricaded in the room, she directed officers to a spare key that they used to enter the house and begin searching for the raccoon. A state Environmental Police officer who happened to be nearby when the call went out was able to corner the animal in the house and trap it with a net and snare. After the raccoon was killed, Animal Control Officer Leslie Badger took it to the morgue at the VCA South Shore Animal Hospital in Weymouth to remove its head, which she took to the state lab in Jamaica Plain for testing.
Hingham residents occasionally report encounters between raccoons and people or pets, but Badger said it's very rare for the animals to try to get inside a home. She said the raccoon that attacked the woman in Hingham likely either had rabies or was taken in by someone who fed it and then set it free when it got too big. "People need to understand that you can't feed these animals," Badger said. "It turns into a situation for someone else that has no idea." Dearth said the woman's cat was found unharmed. The result of the rabies testing is expected soon.