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Bobcat that attacked Massachusetts family was rabid, officials say

A man in Massachusetts shows off fang and claw marks a bobcat left on his face and back during an attack in the garage of his family's home. WHDH's Alex Field reports.

The wild bobcat that attacked two people in Brookfield, Mass., leaving a man with severe gashes on his face and arms, had rabies, according to a town official.


Stephen J. Comtois, chairman of the town council, announced at a council meeting Tuesday evening that the bobcat was infected with the neurological disease, the Worcester Telegram & Gazette reported. Comtois said the victims of the attack were being treated with vaccination shots. 

Roger Mundell, 53, shot and killed the bobcat after it bit and clawed him and his 15-year-old nephew at Mundell's home Sunday morning, Brookfield police chief Michael Blancherd said. 

Mundell discovered the animal in his garage. Before he had a chance to get his bearings, the bobcat lunged at him.


Previous report: 'It gave me a bear hug': Bobcat attacks Massachusetts family

"It only took a split second for him to be on me," Mundell told WHDH, an NBC station in Boston. "I didn't have time to process it."

Mundell sustained a large cut on his forehead and puncture wounds on his arms during the attack, police said.

"It hit me with it's face right here," Mundell told WHDH, pointing to the wound on his forehead. "Then it gave me a bear hug."

Mundell wrenched away from the animal and bolted inside his house, slamming the door to the garage behind him. After Mundell told his wife, Cindy, what happened, she darted out the front door to alert her 15-year-old nephew, Blancherd said.

But as soon as Cindy got outside, the bobcat emerged from the garage's side door and lunged at her nephew. Mundell, who had also gone outside to warn the teenager, charged forward to rescue him.

"I had to get it off my nephew," Mundell said. "I was in a T-shirt by then and that's when it ripped up my arms and stuff like that."

 

Christine Peterson / The Telegram & Gazette via AP

Roger Mundell Jr., bears cuts on his face at his home in Brookfield, Mass., after being attacked by a bobcat in his garage Sunday.

Amid the frenzy, Mundell and his wife managed to pin the animal to the ground with a walking crutch. While Mundell kneeled on the bobcat, his wife ran inside to retrieve a .38-caliber Smith & Wesson handgun, and Mundell shot the animal, Blancherd said.

Mundell, his wife and nephew were transported to a hospital for treatment. The three reportedly received rabies vaccinations before lab results came back because officials thought the bobcat might be rabid, the Telegram reported.

Since 1992, over 5,000 animals have tested positive for rabies in Massachusetts, according to data compiled by the state's Department of Public Health. Bobcats, along with coyotes and bears, are among the animals most susceptible to rabies.

But there are only a handful of reported cases in recent years of rabies-stricken bobcats that went on the attack, according to Tom French, a Massachusetts fisheries and wildlife official.

Raccoons and coyotes are the "primary" vectors of rabies in the state and are more likely to spread the disease to humans and other animals, French said.