Possible rabid bobcat mauls NH woman's face as she tended her garden
SUNAPEE — A bobcat viciously attacked an 80-year-old woman closing up her chickens for the night and picking weeds form her garden.
Around 8:30 Sunday night, Elsie Dabrowski went to put her chickens away carrying a sickle to cut weeds, as she does routinely.
When Dabrowski bent over to cut underneath her rose bushes, a bobcat lunged for her face, causing major damage to her left cheek. The full-sized cat latched onto her face so hard, he tore through the skin and reached bone.
Dabrowski beat the cat off with her sickle, and five dogs at her home chased him under a porch on the property.
At this time, the commotion got the attention of Dabrowski's son, a director in Sullivan County for the New Hampshire Trappers Association.
Gene Dabrowski told NH1 News that when he heard the ruckus, he grabbed a shotgun and ran toward the property to assist his mother.
"The cat darted under a building before I was able to get a good shot, but once I moved the dogs out of the way, I was able to dispatch the animal," Gene Dabrowski said.
The cat has been handed over to New Hampshire Fish and Game to be tested for rabies.
Elsie Dabrowski was taken to New London Hospital to treat the injuries she sustained in the attack. In addition to her face, the bobcat left scratches and bite marks on her wrist, elbow and side.
Gene Dabrowski said his mom has since been release from the hospital and is home and feeding her chickens again as early as noon Monday.
The danger of rabies in a situation like this is not taken lightly. Elsie Dabrowski is currently undergoing the first round of rabies shots at a local Veterans Association hospital.
Gene Dabarowski also said he will get updated rabies shots after handling the dead bobcat.
The cat had a face full of quills, which could be an indicator of rabies.
"It's like humans knowing not to drive off the road. The consequences are clear," Gene Dabrowski said. "Animals usually do not attack porcupines because they know the results will not be good."
Rabies is a disease that affects the brain and with Elsie Dabroski's facial injuries, doctors are taking no chances with the spread of rabies.
Gene Dabarowski feels this is not an isolated incident, stating that he's seen many bobcats in the area.
As a graduate of a college designed specifically for trapping and wildlife preservation, he feels very strongly that trapping needs to remain legal in New Hampshire, especially after the incident with his mother.
"Trapping, collering and monitoring these bobcats would help prevent the spread of rabies and hopefully incidents like this," Gene told NH1 News.
In 2016, a controversial bill to allow the hunting and trapping of 50 bobcats drew heated debates at several public testimonies.
A Fish and Game Commission narrowly voted to approve the season in February 2016 but a legislative committee rejected the idea and the department withdrew its proposal April.
The result of the rabies tests administered to the bobcat have not yet been determined.